Pub group JD Wetherspoon has said it will relax its face mask and table service rules for customers on July 19.
The group, which runs 860 sites across the UK, said it will revert back to “successful measures” it had in place last summer upon the latest relaxation of restrictions.
The pub giant said it will allow customers to order at the bar again, although it will encourage people to use its app for ordering meals and drinks to reduce contact.
It said face masks will not be enforced and customers and staff “will be able to wear them at their discretion”.
Wetherspoon’s announced on Friday that it will retain a number of its current safety measures, such as screens between tables and hand sanitiser stations across its pubs.
It added that the current limit of groups of six will no longer apply, while the test and trace system in place will be retained, but now only on a voluntary basis.
Tim Martin, founder and chairman of the chain, said: “When pubs reopened after the first lockdown, in July last year, a sensible set of measures were agreed between the hospitality industry, the health authorities and other interested parties – and kept transmission in hospitality venues at low levels.
“While risks from Covid-19 cannot be eliminated completely, we believe that the July 2020 guidelines are a sensible backstop for the industry and strike a fair balance between health, employment and the economy.”
Government guidance, released on Wednesday, also encouraged pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to check vaccine and testing status as a condition of entry through the NHS Covid Pass.
Mr Martin said on Friday that some rules in place across his venues have been considered “absurd” by staff and called for reason from Government.
“It is hoped that arbitrary and capricious government rules, which have been a regular feature in recent months, such as the requirement for substantial meals, curfews and table service, which have no scientific provenance, can be avoided in future,” he said.
“These sorts of rules damage the economy, are extraordinarily difficult for pub staff to implement and are invariably regarded by customers as absurd.”