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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Coronavirus business closure requirements and restrictions

New Tier 2 controls in Dorset

On Wednesday 2 December the new system of 3 tiers of control become law.

The Dorset Council area and the Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council area are covered by the new tier 2 controls for ‘High Alert’, which is the middle level of the 3 tiers of COVID-19 control. View a list of local restriction tiers by area.

The tiers will be reviewed by government on 16 December.

The new tier system brings in changes affecting many aspects of daily life, with a significant relaxation on the requirements for businesses that have been closed in lockdown. In Dorset, most shops and businesses will be able to open in a COVID-secure manner, with some specific restrictions in the hospitality industry for pubs, restaurants and cafes.

What this means for businesses

In tier 2, the key points for shops and other business are:

  • customers must not socialise with anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • customers must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space. This is called the ‘rule of 6’.
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
  • pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants (serving meals). Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals
  • hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to:
    • provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol
    • close between 11pm and 5am (hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are exempt)
    • stop taking orders after 10pm
  • hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances  that start before 10pm
  • public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
  • organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
  • organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under 18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing

Read our guidance on ensuring customers and staff are safe, and remaining compliant with legal requirements.

Ensuring compliance

Our environmental health, trading standards and licensing officers continue to advise and respond to complaints, as they have throughout the pandemic, engaging with businesses and using formal enforcement as a last resort, when advice is ignored. We continue to work closely with Dorset Police, who have the powers to deal with individual members of the public.

Contact us

Get in touch if you'd like further guidance on these new requirements.

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