Drinkers should take cash to the pub with them next week to avoid falling foul of new rules that say staff should take payments for drinks outside, The Telegraph has been told.
Guidelines have been drawn up that ban pubs from taking payments indoors – potentially shutting out a third of the sector from Monday's reopening.
Industry bosses have complained to ministers that poor rural broadband and mobile signal means card machines cannot be used in many pub gardens. Some pubs and bars have licensing restrictions that do not allow them to take payments outdoors, leaving landlords caught between regulations with no way to reopen.
The Telegraph understands ministers will attempt to change the rules before Monday so customers can go inside as a "last resort", but drinkers have been urged to bring cash so they can pay safely outdoors. Industry leaders met officials on Tuesday to push for a U-turn.
An internal memo seen by The Telegraph shows that "indoor payment will be allowed, but only as a last resort, i.e. where portable card payment or cash payment isn't an option".
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.
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"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. These are government rules and they're there to help keep customers and staff as safe as possible.”
Tim Martin, the boss of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, 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. "A sensible set of rules was agreed last summer involving inside use of pubs. There were no virus outbreaks at all in Wetherspoon pubs and there were almost none in the industry. The UK Government makes the EU look like a bastion of sensible regulation."
Pubs will be encouraged to assign a single staff member per table to reduce the possibility of transmission between groups of people, and to use "contactless ordering" though an app. The rules in Boris Johnson's roadmap out of restrictions say "table service for ordering, service and payment must be used in venues which sell alcohol" from Monday.
Research by UKHospitality has found that more than four million Britons plan to visit a pub or restaurant from April 12 – more than one in 20 people nationwide.
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