Sunday June 6, 2021
If Bob Dylan sold Marquees this year he may well have written “The rules, they are a changing” so with the gradual (and hopefully ongoing) unlocking of the United Kingdom, each at their own pace across the four nations, we thought it would be useful if we summarised the situation as we understand it both now and going forwards.
Of course a sensible belt and braces approach would be to check on www.gov.uk, www.gov.scot, www.gov.wales or www.nidirect.gov.uk as appropriate for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as appropriate.
Under new rules, announced in late March Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick detailed new plans to help the hospitality industry get back on its feet again. This crucially included the relaxing of restrictions around temporary outdoor spaces for bars, pubs, cafés, and restaurants. Under the new measures, these venues will no longer need to apply to local councils for planning permission to put up marquees, gazebos, awnings and so on. They will also be allowed to keep them up for longer than the then current regulations say that such structures can only be in place for up to 28 days.
This is obviously potentially a huge game-changer for venues that either don’t have any existing provision for outside eating and drinking or ones who simply fear that British weather may get the better of us with patrons unwilling to be outside anyway. This provision is intended to continue to be available to venues through to September 2022.
However, according to a story in Big Hospitality, these new outdoor spaces must not be substantially enclosed, which means that at least two ends must be open for it still to be considered an “outdoor space”.
With the opening up of indoor spaces this rule was of course relaxed, but this has allowed hospitality venues to extend seating capacity – which is a blessing at a time where they need to make up for a year or so of lost revenue in an environment where social distancing and “rule of six” would reduce the number of covers that could be served without this extra capacity.
When we spoke to one of our satisfied customers (please check out a previous article where we interviewed a restaurateur who owns one of UK Tent’s premium marquees) he extolled the virtues of the extra floor space.
To quote from the official guidance,
“Temporary changes mean that businesses such as pubs can set up a marquee for up to 56 days without the need for planning permission until 31 December 2021. Please be aware that any covid restrictions relating to indoor use will also include marquees. To be classed as “outdoors” any structure must be substantially open, having at least 50% of the area open to the air. Any temporary structures erected need to be suitable and safe for use. You need to consider its structural capabilities, especially in high winds.”
There are plenty of guidance for the safe use of marquees, both in terms of construction and usage as of course we can’t cover everything here. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as well as your local authority have a range of helpful documents. Rest assured of course that our marquees are all based on a galvanised steel framework and our premium range of tents are of course fire resistant. We can also supply an optional storm protection kit for use on soft ground for added peace of mind.
Wedding Receptions and Celebrations
Probably the most frequent use of a marquee is for wedding receptions and similar celebrations – its almost becoming a national tradition.
Under the easing that took place in England on 17th May wedding receptions of up to 30 people are permitted – such receptions can take place indoors in a covid secure venue. A marquee in a recognised and covid secure hospitality venue falls under this category.
Private gardens are considered “outdoors” and marquees can still be used but with at least 50% of the walls (typically the two ends) rolled up so that it is still considered an “outdoor space” but nevertheless sheltered.
If the road map runs to schedule, then these rules will be further relaxed no earlier than June 21st. At this point, referred to as “step 3” the emphasis shifts from regulation to personal responsibility.
There is still an emphasis on good ventilation, a real bonus point for holding the event in a marquee, especially if the weather is conducive to one or more sides rolled up. Indeed, for it to be classed as an “outdoor event” at least 50% of the sides should be rolled up.
To quote from gov.uk
“Ventilation with external air should be maximised in all buildings where people are gathering. For example, windows and doors should be opened as much as possible, and the sides of marquees removed or rolled up throughout the event and when groups of staff are preparing and clearing away. At least 50% of the wall area of the marquee must be open for the venue to be classed as ‘outdoors’.”
If you live or are planning an event in Scotland you may wish to review https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/ for an outline of the “levels” system and guidance as unlocking continues.
For our Welsh customers you can review the alert levels and corresponding guidance here https://gov.wales/covid-19-alert-levels noting that at the time of compiling this guid all of Wales is at alert level 2.
In Northern Ireland guidance can be found at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
This guidance has separate pages for hospitality, leisure, and weddings as well as the rules covering gatherings in private gardens and outdoor spaces
We appreciate that the rules can be confusing, at times complex and seemingly ever changing. Here at UK Tents we commit to keep as up to date on these rules as we can in order to give you the best expert advice. We can give advice over the phone or direct you to the website you need to ensure you’re unlikely to put a foot wrong!
You’ll be pleased to learn that we are also committed to aftersales care so even after you’ve made your purchase, we’ll always be just a call or email away with advice and guidance.