Skip to main content
Menu

Opening of facilities (2020)

Request

  1. Are the bars and locations serving alcoholic beverages within the parliamentary buildings closed?
  2. Are the tea rooms and other social venues in the parliamentary buildings closed?
  3. When did they close? I would like individual dates and times for each closure.
  4. If any of these venues are still open I would like to know what social distancing measures are in place and from what date these were implemented? This also includes a summary of the capacity of the venues in numbers of people in comparison with floor space.
  5. I would like a comparison of use of each venue before any Lockdown measures and after.

 

Response

Please note initially that our response only deals with catering venues on the parliamentary estate for which the House of Commons is responsible. Some venues are the responsibility of the House of Lords, which is a separate public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act. You may wish to consider forwarding your request to them. Requests for information relating to the House of Lords should be directed to FOILORDS@parliament.uk.

1) Are the bars and locations serving alcoholic beverages within the parliamentary buildings closed?

The House of Commons holds this information for the venues for which it is responsible. A small number of venues are still open, but alcohol service has been suspended.

It may interest you to know that, when the gift shops closed on the estate, they were still storing some excess perishable souvenirs. To ensure these were not wasted, catering agreed to offer these perishables for sale, and these are included in the dataset. This also mean that there were souvenir sales of alcohol in this period, which are marked as such in the dataset.

2) Are the tea rooms and other social venues in the parliamentary buildings closed?

We have interpreted your reference to “social venues” on the parliamentary estate to refer to catering venues, which typically contain social communal seating. The House of Commons holds this information for the venues for which it is responsible. The Members' Tea Room is open when the House is sitting, providing food for working Members. A limited number of Catering venues are open, depending on whether the House is sitting or not, and providing limited catering for those people supporting the business of Parliament. Takeaway food is being encouraged in the outlets that are open and chairs and tables have been socially distanced.

3) When did they close? I would like individual dates and times for each closure.

The House of Commons holds this information for the venues for which it is responsible.
Schedule for all catering venues managed by the House of Commons, which shows the date each venue closed, and opening hours for the ones which remained open. The venues which closed did so at their usual closing time on their last day of operation.

4) If any of these venues are still open I would like to know what social distancing measures are in place and from what date these were implemented? This also includes a summary of the capacity of the venues in numbers of people in comparison with floor space.

This information is held by the House of Commons. Social distancing measures are in place and have been gradually implemented since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as best practive and PHE guidance following the lockdown announcement on 23 March 2020. The current measures in place are as follows:

• Redesigned work processes and one-way people traffic flows in catering outlets to ensure social distancing is in place;
• Plexiglass barriers, ropes and posts have been installed at points of regular interaction such as till points, as an additional element of protection for both staff and customers;
• Reviewed work schedules including start and finish times/shift patterns with working from home to reduce the number of staff on site at any one time;
• Relocation of staff to other roles in other catering work areas;
• Posters, leaflets and other materials are available for display reminding staff and customers;
• All catering outlets have gone cashless;
• Reduced number of supplier deliveries to site, by increasing the size of orders and reducing frequency;
• Conference calls used instead of face to face meetings;
• Supervisors stagger start, finish, lunch and break times, ensuring sufficient rest breaks for staff;
• Queue Management – queue marshals sited in catering outlets, dining rooms, communal seating areas to manage people flows in queues and limit reduced people capacities within catering outlets to help maintain social distancing;
• Where it is possible to remain 2-metres apart, floor markings have been installed to mark the distance, particularly in the most crowded areas such as where queues form;
• Tables and chairs removed from communal seating areas to limit the number of people in any one area and maintain social distancing;
• Hot food offer in cafeterias reduced to 3 dishes to allow staff behind the counter to maintain social distancing between one another;
• Disposable containers and cutlery introduced to encourage take away and discourage eating in communal seating areas;
• Staff are reminded on a regular basis of the importance of social distancing both in the workplace and outside of it;
• Management checks to ensure social distancing is adhered to.

The floor space, usual capacity and amended capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions detailed for all relevant catering venues managed by the House of Commons in Table 1.


It may interest you to know that the Member's Tea Room is currently making use of the Smoking Room as an overflow seating area, adding an extra 84 m² to the current floor space. Additionally, the Debate, Adjournment and Despatch Box are venues surrounding a communal seating area in the Portcullis House Atrium which offers 1119 m² of floor space not assigned to any of these venues in particular.

5) I would like a comparison of use of each venue before any Lockdown measures and after.

The House of Commons holds this information for the venues for which it is responsible. The House holds transaction information for the period of the UK lockdown, 23 March 2020 to 22 May 2020. This information is shown in Table 2 and compared with the transaction information for the same period in 2019. This information is split into “Events” which relates to banqueting related dining and “Non Events” which includes all other areas of bar, cafeteria and restaurant service for catering venues managed by the House of Commons.