Boris Johnson has confirmed the 4 July as the date when the hospitality industry can reopen, and said the two metre social distancing rule can be relaxed to one.
“Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two metre social distancing rule from 4 July,” he told MPs.
To cheers from the house, he said: “we will also reopen restaurants and pubs” though he added that “all hospitality indoors will be limited to table service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.”
He added that detailed guidance for specific sectors would be released later today.
However, the PM warned the decision was always “reversible”, saying “we have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus. At every stage, caution will remain. Each step will be conditional and reversible.
“I must be clear to the house that, as we have seen in other countries, there will be flareups for which local measures will be needed. And we will not hesitate to apply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions, even at national level, if required.”
He later reinforced this sentiment when asked by one MP whether he would encourage the UK to head back to pubs, saying “Yes, I want to see people taking advantage of hospitality again, but they have got to do it in a responsible way and observe social distancing.”
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said the confirmation of the 4 July was “very helpful” and “affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations”.
She also welcomed the reduction in social distancing, saying it “could be the difference between failure and staying alive to see out the remainder of the crisis.”
However, she said while many venues will “endeavour to reopen on 4 July, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued Government support will remain crucial.
“Many businesses have been closed for months with no revenue and are now facing substantial rent and PAYE bills. We need financial help from the Government, otherwise some of these businesses are going to go under right at the point at which they are allowed to open once again.”
St Austell CEO Kevin Georgel, said the PM’s announcement delivered “much needed clarity and comes as a huge relief.
“We also welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement on reducing two-metre social distancing guidelines to one-metre plus, which will allow us to reopen our pubs more viably on 4 July. Now that we have a firm date, we can fully focus on getting our pubs ready to reopen safely.”
Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie said: “It is great that we finally have the news we’ve all been waiting for; a confirmed opening date for pubs and a change to social distancing from two metres to one. It is a welcome relief for pub operators, our team members who want to get back to work, and of course our customers who have been missing their local pub.”
BBPA CEO Emma McClarkin said while it was “great to know our pubs will be able to reopen on 4 July, it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.”
London Union founder Jonathan Downey said: “Good to finally hear this news but we have yet to see the detail and how much of the guidance is ‘where possible’, for example on taking names and contact details for all guests.
”Ten days’ notice to reopening is a practical impossibility for many and, with one-metre distancing, economically unviable for most. But we will crack on and this is a start. If the first few weeks go well, I’m sure there will be further relaxation and I look forward to our nightclubs, music venues and leisure spaces opening at full capacity soon.”
James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), said that breweries have been “badly let down by the Government” over the time it has taken for guidance to be announced.
He tweeted that “we were promised three weeks notice and not had it” and stressed that there is “still a heck of a lot of beer to destroy” amid uncertainty over demand for beer.
Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor Sacha Lord said he was “pleased” with the news but said he was concerned about the “onus on the operator on ensuring social distancing remains in place, especially when customers have been drinking.
“It will be incredibly difficult to implement especially as friends and family begin to bunch together after a few pints. I want to ensure that while operators should act in good faith in terms of adhering to guidelines and doing all they can, that they aren’t penalised for customer behaviour.”
PM confirms 4 July and reduces social distancing
Boris Johnson has confirmed the 4 July as the date when the hospitality industry can reopen, and said the two metre social distancing rule can be relaxed to one. “Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two metre social distancing rule from 4 July,” he told MPs. To cheers from the house, he said: “we will also reopen restaurants and pubs” though he added that “all hospitality indoors will be limited to table service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.”