What venues can have an outdoor structure

As of 12 April, outdoor areas at hospitality venues can reopen. 

These include:

  • cafes
  • restaurants
  • bars
  • pubs
  • social clubs, including in member’s clubs

Some venues may want to erect outdoor shelters. However, to be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other structures must not be ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’.

They can have a roof but need to have at least 50% of the area of their walls open at all times whilst in use.

If a structure has temporary sides like marquee, these must be removed, not just rolled up, if they are not counted as part of the 50%.

What ‘enclosed’ and ‘substantially’ enclosed means

Enclosed

Whether on a permanent or temporary basis, a premises will be considered to be enclosed if they have:

  • a ceiling or roof
  • windows or passageways - this does not include doors
  • are wholly enclosed

This includes tents and marquees as well as solid structures.

Fully enclosed hut with windows and a roof. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

Marquee with 3 sides rolled down and one side rolled up. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

Substantially enclosed

A premises or area is considered to be substantially enclosed if it has a ceiling or roof, but there are openings in the walls which have an area that is less than half of the premises
perimeter area. This is often referred to as the 50% Rule. Other structures that serve the purpose of walls and constitute the perimeter of the premises should be counted as part of the enclosed area.

Doors, windows or other fittings that can be opened or shut must always be counted as part of the enclosed area, as stated in the legislation.

A wooden hut with a roof and sides with open walls and windows less than half the premises perimeter area. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

Structure attached to a wall with a roof and sides. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

About the 1.5 metre rule

Brighton & Hove City Council requires businesses to ensure that the ‘open sides’ of their outdoor structure are at least 1.5 metres away from any materials or structure that would act to enclose these sides. For example, a garden wall, trellis or furniture. If these materials are too close to the open side then they may prevent the shelter being fully ventilated and lead to it becoming an enclosed area.

Wooden structure with roof and sides. Its less than 1.5 metres away from two walls. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

A leafy structure with a roof and sides. There is a red cross to show that it is not compliant with the guidance.

How to make a compliant shelter or area

A shelter with a roof is considered outdoors when at least 50% of the perimeter walls are open on a permanent basis and unobstructed by any nearby walls or other material up to a distance of 1.5 meters such as a structure with a roof and one wall.

A wooden hut with a roof and open sides. More than 50% of the perimeter walls are open. There is a green tick to show that it is compliant with the guidance.

A curved shelter with more than 50%  open space. There is a green tick to show that it is compliant with the guidance.

 

How to know if your area is 50% open and meets the outdoor area requirement

To be sure it complies, businesses must calculate what percentage of their outdoor area is open and enclosed.

How to calculate the area of your outside space

1. Measure the area of the whole perimeter of the outside area/shelter that falls beneath the roof/ceiling. Do not include the area of the roof or floor.

2. Measure the area of all the enclosed parts of the perimeter of the outside area/shelter. This could be walls or other structures that serve the purpose of walls. Do not include the area of the roof and floor but do include the area of all doors and windows as these are always counted as enclosed parts. This calculation will be part of the enclosed area of your outside area/shelter.

3. Divide the enclosed area (E) by the perimeter area (P) and times by 100 as shown below:

E ÷ P X 100 = % Enclosed

If your outside area/shelter is more than 50% enclosed then it does not comply and cannot be permitted without alterations. If the calculation demonstrates that the structure is compliant then please keep a record of this as you will be asked for it as and when you are visited by the council’s COVID Information Officers (CIOs).

Summary of the guidance

To help you understand the guidance we've simplified it into 3 points: 

  • if an area has no roof, seating is allowed within it. No further calculations are needed - provided that adjoining walls, structures do not restrict air movement
  • if 50% of the walls or more are missing then it is legal for people to sit in the area
  • if more than 50% of the walls are present then it is illegal for people to sit in the area