Pub-goers warned over 'control freak' rules banning indoor payments

Bring cash to the pub: Drinkers are warned they might not be able to pay by card in rural beer gardens because of bad signal with indoor payments banned under Covid rules

  • Landlords fear that patchy signal could make it hard to pay with cards outside
  • Meanwhile, some pubs cannot take payments outdoors due to licensing rules
  • Wetherspoon boss said government had ‘lost the plot with its control freakery’

Drinkers should take cash to the pub when they reopen for outdoor drinking on Monday due to ‘control freak’ government rules banning the taking of payments inside, industry figures warned today.

Landlords fear that patchy rural broadband and mobile signal means that card machines will be difficult to use in pub gardens, creating the prospect of punters not being able to legally pay for pints. 

Meanwhile, some pubs have licensing restrictions that prevent the taking of payments outdoors – leaving them caught in a net of contradicting regulations with no way to open. 

Landlords fear that patchy rural broadband and mobile signal means that card machines will be difficult to use in pub gardens

Ministers are looking at changing the rules before Monday so that payments can be taken inside as a ‘last resort’ when card payment ‘isn’t an option’, according to an internal memo seen by the Telegraph. 

But drinkers are being urged to consider taking cash anyway so they do not need to leave their tables to pay. 

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said the new rules showed the Government had ‘lost the plot with its control freakery’.

‘Publicans will have to jump through fiery hoops yet again to comply with this daftness,’ he said.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of the industry body UKHospitality, said: ‘Be reassured that we will look after you well, and we will process payments.

‘But people need to remember their phone in order to check in for Test and Trace, and they need to remember a mask for walking through into the beer gardens, as well as some cash.’ 

It may be wise to bring cash to pubs, industry bosses have said 

It came as Boris Johnson vowed not to introduce controversial vaccine passports before May 17, when indoor hospitality can resume. 

Pub bosses have criticised the plans, which they say would cause an unnecessary burden on their staff, while they have been described as ‘un-British’ by civil liberties campaigners. 

The PM told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the Government was still ‘some way off finalising any plans’ for certification.

The so-called passports are expected to show whether someone had received a vaccine, had a negative coronavirus test or had contracted and recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months.

Mr Johnson said: ‘On Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everybody listening and watching is there’s absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdressers or whatever on Monday.

‘And indeed we are not planning that for stage three either, May 17 as you know we are hoping to go for the opening up of indoor hospitality and so on.

‘We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.’

However, Mr Johnson did hint that the certification scheme could be used for some pilot events involving large numbers of people over the coming weeks.

‘Obviously we are looking at it (Covid certification),’ he said.

‘We want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events. Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15, that kind of thing.

‘Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.’

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said the new rules banning outdoor payment showed the Government had ‘lost the plot with its control freakery’

Mr Johnson’s comments came as the Government published the latest findings from its reviews of Covid status certification – so-called ‘vaccine passports’ – and international travel.

The review suggested a certification scheme could have an ‘important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure’ – but Mr Johnson faces opposition from MPs on both sides of the Commons who are concerned about the civil liberties implications.

Asked if the vaccine passports were ‘un-British’, Mr Johnson said: ‘The principle of requiring some people to have a certificate to prove they are not passing on the disease, like surgeons who have to prove they are vaccinated against hep B or whatever, that can be a sensible one.

‘But I want to stress that we are some way off finalising any plans for Covid certification in the UK.’ 

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