Before the nationwide coronavirus lockdown went into effect in the UK, pubs were among the first venues to be closed. Now the government has offered a suggestion of when certain parts of the hospitality industry might be able to get back to business. So when will pubs reopen in the UK?
On May 10, as part of his announcement about the easing of certain lockdown restrictions, the Prime Minister said that some sections of the hospitality industry may open again in July. However, this would only be the case if the infection rate had lowered significantly by then. Clarifying the government’s position on May 11, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky, “From 4 July, at the earliest, we’ll look at other sectors and that will include hospitality, but it will also include personal care and people like hairdressers.”
However, on May 28, speaking in a Liaison Committee meeting, Johnson told MPs that he was “much more optimistic” about opening up the hospitality sector. “We may be able to do things faster than I had previously thought,” he said. This could suggest that pubs will reopen in June rather than the first week of July, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Johnson’s May 10 speech represented the first easing of lockdown measures since they were put in place on March 23. It came after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab listed five factors that needed to happen before restrictions could be lifted on April 16. These included being confident in the NHS’ ability to cope with demand, a “sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates” and the rate of infection, confidence in there being enough tests and PPE, and any adjustments “to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections.”
However, while the government has suggested when pubs may reopen, it has yet to elaborate what measures will be put in place to ensure safety while they do. Economist Eyal Winter, who has been part of a team of behavioural experts advising the government since the beginning of April, has revealed what might change when pubs do reopen. Speaking to the Guardian, Winter suggested that landlords could “ration how much beer they served, to two or three pints” and, after that, politely ask customers to go home. Winter thinks landlords should be put in charge of implementing these rules and “monitoring customer numbers.”
But even is pubs open, they will still be facing significant struggles. “You are looking at a 50% drop in revenues at best,” business owner Jon Dalton told Sky News today (April 30). “Nobody knows how fast confidence will return, how soon people will want to go out.”
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