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Guidelines - the new pub rules

Page updated 15th October 2020

What we've introduced

We have been working hard to make our pubs safe for both you & our team. To do this, we have introduced:

  • Clear rules & signage
  • Reworked the pub to have a single entrance & exit where possible
  • Table planning to allow for social distancing
  • Table booking for both drinks & food
  • Simplified menus online, single use menus on the day
  • Table service
  • Hand sanitiser for all
  • Carefully planned rules to use the loos
  • Carefully trained our teams to protect both them & you

Guidelines downloads

The new pub rules

Our pledge


Please note that we will be reviewing this information regularly, in line with the latest Government advice.

When will your pubs be open?

The majority of our pubs are now open. For the latest information on opening dates at sites which are currently closed, please follow their social media channels and check their individual website.

If you book a table for food, how long can you stay on for drinks?

Tables are limited to 1.5 hours.

Can you request outdoor tables when booking?

No, tables outside are not bookable. Customers can request to sit outside when they arrive and their request will be accommodated where possible, but managers have the right to refuse such a request as this is dependent on trade and staffing levels.  If we are able to seat you outside, you will be giving up your inside booking and your table will no longer be available.

Can you book for drinks only?

No, we are only accepting advance bookings for food.

Will accommodation be available?

Pubs / hotels/ inns with accommodation will offer rooms if they are open.

Do I need to book a table?

We will only be offering seated table service while social distancing requirements are in place. This will result in reduced maximum occupancy, so we strongly recommend that customers book in advance for food, either by phone or online.

Do you accept walk-ins?

We will accept walk-ins for food and drinks, although you may have to wait for an available table.

How do I book?

Please book online if that option is available on the individual pub website. If not, please call the pub directly. Bookings will not be taken via social media channels.

Is there a limit on the number of people that I can book a table for?

We can accept bookings for a maximum of six people per group. This number includes babies and children.

What happens if I need to cancel?

Due to the exceptional circumstances currently being faced by our pub teams, it is more important than ever that you let us know if you need to cancel a booking. Your support in this matter is appreciated.

What measures have you taken to ensure customer safety?

We have invested in extensive measures to protect our customers and team members, including the following:

  • Issuing infrared thermometers to all pubs to allow team member temperature checks ahead of every shift
  • Issuing new safety signage to all pubs to reassure and inform, including floor stickers to indicate social distancing requirements. This signage is being sourced locally from our Charity of the Year Royal British Legion Industries.
  • Till screens to protect our team members have been installed across our managed estate
  • Physical screens to create safer, more intimate spaces have been installed across our managed estate
  • Additional mobile PIN-entry devices have been issued across our managed estate to allow more contactless and card payment at the table
  • Hand sanitiser dispense stations installed across our managed estate
  • 3,000 face masks for team members in our managed estate have been sourced locally from Sittingbourne firm Tillett Racing Seats

We will also be introducing some temporary changes to the way we operate, including:

  • Seated table service only which reduces capacity numbers
  • Tables removed/spaced out in line with Government guidelines
  • Single entrance and exit points to the pubs where possible
  • One in, one out system for pubs with smaller toilet space
  • Introduction of single-use recyclable paper menus
  • All condiments removed from tables and replaced with ramekins when requested
  • Cutlery will be brought to you by our team members
  • Increased cleaning regime, with focus on high touch points
  • No standing at the bar, with drinks provided by table service in the bar area

Please note that we will follow Government guidance on any additional measures that are required.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Customers are required to wear a mask or face covering when entering and moving around the pub. These may be removed when seated at tables.
A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or handmade cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.  Government guidelines state that a face visor does not count as a face covering as this does not fit around the side of the face. 
Face coverings do not have to be worn whilst seated outdoors however these must be worn if a customer stands up to leave their table or whilst staff are servicing customers.

Do I have to provide my name and contact details before entering the pub?

From 18th September 2020 it is a legal requirement to obtain customer details on arrival.  This was previously guidance but is now a mandatory requirement. This can either be collected at the point of arrival via a member of staff, or through the NHS QR code (from 24th September).
The new requirements mean we have to implement the following measures from 18th September 2020:

  • Obtain details of at least one person from each party of up to six people for their name, contact details and the number of people in that group
  • Retain the records of all customers who have visited for a period of 21 days and provide to NHS track and trace if requested
  • The above are applicable to customers who sit both indoors or outdoors

The Government guidance now also states that those customers who fail to provide details should be refused entry.

How will service be affected?

Our team members will be following social distancing guidelines at all times, so it may take a little longer to serve you, but we hope that you will bear with us during these exceptional circumstances.

Food and drink must be ordered from and served at, a table.  Customers must eat and drink at a table.  This extends to both food and drink which is consumed indoors and outdoors. 

Will pubs close at 10pm, if so what time is last orders?

All of our pubs will be closing at 10pm at the latest. Please check individual pub websites and Facebook pages for up to date closing times. Last drink orders will be taken half an hour before the pub closes. Last food sittings will be 8pm.

How will our visit to the pub be different?

Our aim is to ensure that you feel safe when visiting our pubs, while still endeavouring to create the same authentic and engaging Shepherd Neame experience that you usually enjoy in our distinctive and individual pub environments.

How will my hotel experience be different?

We are introducing some minor temporary changes to the way we operate our managed hotels, including the following:

    Hotels can continue to serve food and drink to guests through room service but this must be ordered either online or by phone, and will be available only during food service times. This must be consumed within the guest’s room.   
    Hairdryers and a selection of toiletries and drinks are no longer being left in rooms, but are still available to guests free of charge. They can be collected from reception or delivered to your door.
    To keep contact to a minimum, our housekeeping team will not service guest rooms daily. Guests requiring fresh towels will be asked to notify our reception team and the team will arrange for them to be left outside their room.
    Guests are required to wear a mask or face covering when entering the hotel and when in communal areas. In dining and bar areas. Masks may be removed when seated at tables. Please see guidance above as to what constitutes an acceptable face covering.

How will social distancing guidelines be enforced?

We are confident that our customers will respect the rules, but the police and local authorities have powers to enforce social distancing requirements and can instruct customers to disperse, leave an area, issue a fixed penalty notice or take further enforcement action.

How will your pubs be affected by the new Tier 2 lockdown restrictions?

A number of our pubs in London and the surrounding areas will be affected by the Government’s new Tier 2 lockdown restrictions. A full list is available here.
This means that from Saturday, October 17, tables booked inside at these sites must all be from the same household (with support bubble). This will remain fixed at a maximum table size of 6 but only from one household. Please note that it is possible for tables of 6 people from different households to sit outside at these sites. 

Any other questions? Contact us at

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