In the run up to Christmas and New Year, Conservative led Wiltshire Council is encouraging licensed premises to act responsibly to keep everyone safe during the festivities.
Whilst Wiltshire has remained in Tier 2, High alert, there are still restrictions on drinking and dining at licensed premises. For revellers this means that only single households or 'support bubbles' can dine together indoors and they can only be served alcohol with a substantial meal.
For people wishing to enjoy outdoor drinking and dining at a licensed premises then the 'rule of six' applies.
Some Wiltshire businesses are offering covered dining spaces outside for customers and there has been some confusion about when outdoors might be 'indoors'. The definition of 'indoors' for the purposes of the current COVID restrictions is taken from the Smoke-free legislation. Any marquee, gazebo, igloo, dome, shed or any similar structure with a roof (including a retractable roof) and 50% or more walls, counting doors and windows, whether temporary or permanent. So, there must be no mixing of households inside these structures, unless the structure is sufficiently open such as a gazebo with at least two sides fully open.
Licensed premises cannot offer these enclosed spaces for Christmas and New Year's Eve parties that involve mixed gatherings.
To ensure the festivities can take place safely, temporary structures must be sufficiently well spaced out to prevent the risk of fire spreading. Licensees must check that marquees, gazebos and similar structures are flame retardant and well anchored, so they are not at risk of collapsing in the event of high winds, rain or snow.
The use of space heaters, fire-pits, gas barbecues and similar equipment inside these structures can present added risks including extra condensation exacerbating the spread of the COVID virus. Licences must review their fire safety and health and safety risk assessments for any outdoor structures where outdoor heating is used. The equipment must be safe, serviced and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Barbecues of any type are not intended for use indoors and must not be used under cover. They should also check their public liability insurance covers these temporary outdoor structures.
Licensees also need to review the safety of their customers and employees in these outside spaces, and all routes need to be well lit and free of obstructions and trip hazards.
Licensees offering additional outdoor structures for dining should also consider the potential for increased noise from customers and music which neighbours might not normally experience at this time of year.
This guidance ensures that revellers and staff can make the most of the festivities and enjoy this time of year safely.