Bars and restaurants now have to provide no-smoking areas outside bars and restaurants - here’s how the new rules work

Although smoking is not allowed inside pubs and restaurants, there are currently no controls on outdoor smoking

By Helen Johnson
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 10:03 am

The government has announced that pubs, restaurants and cafes must offer customers no-smoking areas outside.

But why is this new rule coming into place and how will it work?

Here’s what you need to know.

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The government has announced that pubs, restaurants and cafes must offer customers non-smoking areas outside (Photo: Shutterstock)

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What is the new rule?

Smoking inside venues has been banned in England since July 2007. Although smoking is not allowed inside pubs and restaurants, there are currently no controls on outdoor smoking.

However, there are now more non-smoking customers in beer gardens and at outside restaurant tables because of the introduction of social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses in England will have to offer separate outside seating for both smokers and non-smokers.

Some campaigners called for a ban on smoking anywhere on the premises, including outdoors spaces, but ministers have rejected this.

Ministers have now tabled an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill requiring businesses to make “reasonable provision” for non-smoking seating.

How will it work?

The government has said that designated areas will have no-smoking signs, no ashtrays and a minimum two-metre distance between non-smoking and smoking areas “wherever possible”.

Some councils across the UK have already closed roads and widened pavements, in order to allow more space for those eating and drinking outside pubs, cafes and restaurants.

However, an amendment by peers, which is set to be considered this week, would make all pavement licences issued by councils conditional on the outside seating areas being smoke-free.

Ministers have said that pubs, restaurants and bars will be allowed to choose to create their own no-smoking areas outside.

Why do hospitality businesses need smoke-free outdoor areas?

The new rules are aimed at enabling people to enjoy eating or drinking outdoors, especially as many establishments move towards this due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Business and Planning Bill is intended to assist the hospitality sector as it reopens after lockdown by making it easier for businesses to set up temporary outdoor areas for eating and drinking.

Planning Minister, Chris Pincher, said: “We are supporting our pubs, cafes and restaurants to safely reopen and securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to set up outdoor seating and stalls to serve food and drink, whilst protecting public health against the transmission of Covid.

“These changes will allow everyone to enjoy outdoor eating and drinking whether they smoke or not, with appropriate provisions made for non-smokers and smokers.”