PUB-GOERS will not have to rely on cash and will be able to use their cards indoors when they drink in beer gardens from Monday, it emerged today.
Drinkers have been booking outdoor tables in their thousands as pubs gear up to open their doors next week.
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Pubs will open their beer gardens on Monday – the first time in monthsCredit: Alamy
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls today told The Sun Online the Government is changing its rules so pubs can accept card payments indoors
But there has been confusion over how punters will pay for their booze after official guidance stated guests in hospitality “must” pay at their outdoor table.
Industry bosses complained that poor rural broadband and mobile signal means card machines cannot be used in pub gardens – typically in remote parts such as in Devon and Cornwall.
Meanwhile, some pubs have licensing restrictions that don’t allow them to accept payments outdoors – forcing some landlords to keep their doors shut next week.
But UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls today confirmed to The Sun Online that the Government guidance is being amended to allow for indoor payment.
It comes as:
The change will allow customers to pay inside as a last resort and Ms Nicholls added that “common sense has prevailed” in what is a “big win” for pubs.
It was feared that up to a third of pubs would not have been able to open on Monday if the rules were not changed.
Ms Nicholls told The Sun Online: “From next week the Government is amending the guidance to allow indoor payments to take place, so common sense has prevailed.
“The Government has worked with us on the pragmatic solution to allow payments to be made indoors where it isn’t possible to make them at the table.
Thousands of Brits will head to their local boozers next weekCredit: Getty
“The original regulations and the original guidance didn’t allow you to come back indoors to make a payment.
“And so for many pubs and restaurants, that would have meant they couldn’t open because they didn’t have remote and contactless payment technology that allowed them to take payments at the table.
“Clearly the only alternative is cash, and a lot of us over the last 14 months are used to not carrying cash and so government guidance recommends you don’t use cash unless it’s a last resort.
“So we were sort of stumped as to how we would manage it and the Government has worked with us to come up with a solution.
“The guidance does now allow you to make payment indoors where it isn’t possible to make a payment at the table. Either in cash or by card.”
From next week the Government is amending the guidance to allow indoor payments to take place, so common sense has prevailed.”
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls
She added: “It’s really good news, unless that change had been made, up to a third of those who would have been able to open outdoors, would not have been able to do so.
“There’s a variety of reasons. Some pubs don’t have Wi-Fi, particularly rural pubs.
“Rural pubs are the ones that have the biggest beer gardens, if you’ve got a big beer garden and you don’t have Wi-Fi in the outside space, you can’t process card payments outdoors.
“There are also some pubs that have a condition on their licence to prevent them from making payments outdoors.”
Ms Nicholls added that it is a huge win for rural pubs that would not have been able to operate under those restrictions and she is expecting the rule change to be made “imminently”.
She added: “It means it’s a weight off a lot of licensee’s minds that they can operate safely, legally and they can take payments. It should allow more pubs to be able to open.
“It was a confusing rule, but it is a victory for common sense and one of those things in the haste of drafting something had got drafted that didn’t make any sense.
“It is great the Government has recognised that and has taken steps to remedy it. It shows the importance of detailed consolation with the industry.”
Shoppers have been urged to ditch cash and pay with contactless in a bid to fight the spread of coronavirus.
Last year, the World Health Organisation warned banknotes could spread the virus from person to person, carrying it on their surface.
A spokesperson for the WHO said: “We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses.
“We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face.
“When possible it would also be advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.”
The Bank of England has also encouraged regular hand washing, saying notes “can carry bacteria or viruses”.
It is something China is already familiar with, with Banks across the country already starting to disinfect notes and put them in isolation.
The country is using Ultraviolet light or high temperatures to sterilise cash before sealing and storing it for 14 days.
It means British notes could also be a hotbed for the bug.