Oakman Inns has said it will reopen all of its pubs on 4 July, and has challenged the Prime Minister to tell it otherwise.

In a statement on its website, the 28-strong pub operator has said that despite the lack of clarity given to the hospitality sector by the government, its 1,000 employees are preparing to serve drinks and food again by the proposed reopening date.

Since closing its doors in March, the business has used the lockdown period to proactively prepare for reopening with safety measures and protocols in place including screens between tables, reduced capacity, one-way systems and disposable menus.

“We will be opening on 4 July, despite the lack of clarity given to the hospitality sector by the Government,” said Oakman’s chief operating officer Dermot King. “We cannot wait any longer and won’t change our plans unless the Prime Minister intervenes.

“The operational challenges of restarting a business are complex. We need to plan three weeks out to arrange supplies of, in our case, fresh food and cask ales. While the rules on furlough allow us to complete training, we cannot prepare menus, and that requires time.

“Unless the Government performs another policy U-turn, we need to invest in that time now.”

Given the clear lack of distancing witnessed in queues as retail reopened this week, King added that the Government should also look to accelerate its review into reducing the two-metre distancing rule.

“There is a huge difference for the hospitality sector when you compare the effects of operating with two-metre spacing as opposed to one-metre spacing,” he said.

“For many smaller premises, as well as those who don’t have significant outdoor areas, it simply will not be viable to open with the two-metre rule.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that if the Government does anything further to prevent pubs, bars and restaurants from opening on July 4, and doesn’t reduce social distancing from two-metre to one-metre, then there will be large numbers of job losses in the hospitality sector, as well as premises that probably never open again.”