Outside structures have emerged as the new flashpoint with local authorities, as operators seek to make the most of al fresco trading, Kate Nicholls has said.

Having visited a number of venues on their first day of trading yesterday, the UKHospitality chief executive reported police and council officials have been busy checking compliance with the rules on outdoor trading.

Operators are also likely to come under pressure to ensure due diligence around mixed households and spacing between groups, Nicholls told MCA’s The Conversation.

She told MCA contributing editor Peter Martin with only 20% of revenue achievable in the best-case scenario with the outside trading, the main focus was on indoor reopening on 17 May.

Nicholls told MCA’s The Conversation: “Police and local authorities have been to most premises to check outside shelters and outside structures. That seems to be the flashpoint that’s emerging for people to make sure that those are fully compliant

“It seems to be the big thing to check. Whereas previously it was all around scotch eggs and substantial table meals, now it’s all about outside shelters and how far they are away from the walls.

“The other one that people are being asked about is spacing between table and groups, and the processes for demonstrating that large groups are genuinely two households.”

Nicholls said there had been some confusion last week about guidance, but this had mostly been resolved following the publication of the regulations.

This clarifies that masks are only legally required in indoor settings.

She said: “It will be down to the operators as to how they want to deal with that their team members who are going in and out premises, and it will depend on the layout of the pub as to whether some of those team members who are working indoors will need to be masked as well, if they’re interacting with customers,

Meanwhile indoor card payments can be taken, while staff are not expected to check customers’ phones to make sure they have checked in on the app.

Nicholls said the thing to keep in mind about outdoor shelters was the 2007 smoking legislation.

The UKH boss said feedback had been broadly “really positive” after trading began yesterday.

She added: “Just 40% of venues have outside space, but our survey suggests that it’s only going to be around a third of outlets that will reopen. It’s roughly 22% of the total trading area for the hospitality estate, and therefore the amount of revenue that can be generated, even with a fair wind, the best of weathers, and a full set of tables at socially distanced capacity, we are looking at 20% of normal revenues.

“It’s a good start, a good milestone, but it’s really building towards that bigger reopening of the 17 May.

“For me and my team, it’s about keeping that focus on the government about delivering on the promise to lift all social distancing restrictions by 21 June, to allow our businesses to trade viably and profitably again.”