Restaurant and Pub Reopening Checklist

by John Jones | May 05, 2021

Restaurants, cafes and pubs look set to reopen for indoor diners in the coming days, so here’s our no-nonsense, quick-fire list of things to check before opening your doors.

Latest news

Before we get onto the checklist, let’s recap the current roadmap for pubs and restaurants across the UK:


Pubs with outdoor spaces were allowed to reopen in England on Monday 12 April.

  • Rule of six in place
  • Table service only and everyone must sit outside, only going indoors to use the toilet
  • No requirement to order a “substantial meal” alongside alcohol

From 17 May, establishments can reopen indoors again. The rule of six applies inside, and groups of up to 30 will be allowed outdoors.


Pubs and restaurants in Scotland were permitted to reopen from 26 April, with a “modified” version of level three restrictions for indoor and outdoor services.

  • Rule of six in place outdoors,  from up to three different households. 
  • Alcohol sales allowed, with no requirement to serve food alongside it
  • All venues must close by 10pm
  • Indoor groups limited to four, from a maximum of two households. No alcohol can be served, and service after 8pm is prohibited

From 17 May:

  • alcohol may be served indoors again
  • Pubs will be allowed to stay open until 10.30pm, with alcohol sales outdoors allowed until 10pm
  • Customers will be given two-hour slots


Pubs and restaurants have been allowed to open outdoors from 26 April, with indoor services going forward to follow England’s on May 17. Although details are yet to be formally announced, it is thought they will include:

  • The rule of four or six
  • Table service only

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has allowed pubs and restaurants to open their outdoor areas from 30 April. There’s a graduated roadmap in place:

  • Pubs and restaurants will be table service only, and “wet pubs” – pubs that do not serve food – will have to remain closed
  • Rule of six from two households
  • Arrangements for indoor dining to be announced




Legal and compliance

  • Check latest national guidelines
  • Ensure all licences and operating permits are in date and valid

Health & Safety

Review Food Safety Management system and re-document as necessary:

  • Food preparation
  • Customer interactions
  • Workflows
  • Control measures
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Carry out risk assessments

Review and amend physical infrastructure for social distancing:

  • Signage
  • Hand sanitizer stations
  • Screens
  • Identify and minimise touch-points (e.g. hand-held menus, condiment dispensers etc.)

Check for and rectify possible pest control issues


Check all staff rotas are in place with staff availability confirmed.

Consider the opportunity to bring in staff with the best track records

Make clear to staff their own responsibilities under social distancing guidelines and personal hygiene

Carry out training needs analysis, to ensure staff are up to speed after their prolonged absence. Carry out any training required.

Ensure all personal alcohol licenses are valid

Supply chain

Contact food and sundry suppliers and establish opening times and delivery schedules

Contact waste disposal companies to ensure continuity of waste services

Confirm product availability and pricing

Carry out a stick check of essential items, including consumables

Ensure sufficient stocks of PPE

Review costs

Marketing communications

Communicate to customers that you’re reopening, and give them lots of information:

  • Update website
  • Use Facebook and Twitter
  • Send emails
  • Tell them what to expect
  • Update voicemail messages

Technical Infrastructure

Check POS system is functioning with up to date pricing and inventory

Ensure effective track & trace protocols are in place

Check all moth-balled kitchen appliances for cleanliness and functionality

Test, flush and disinfect water system

Change telephone voicemail

Ensure the IT network, internet and Wi-Fi are secure and functional

Review booking and reservation systems

Sales and service

Establish new sales channels, such as meal kits, take-away and home dining

Ensure online booking is up to date, with e-menus

Establish methods for implementing waiting lists

Implement book-from-table and pay-from-table systems

We hope the above checklist is useful. If you have items we have missed, we would love to hear from you. Send your ideas to

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