Restaurants and bars are waiting to hear when they will be allowed to reopen. A group of cabinet ministers, nicknamed the “save summer six”, have reportedly been considering proposals to allow beer gardens to reopen from as early as 22 June, in an effort to save more than three million job losses in the hospitality sector this summer. Those proposals were shut down yesterday as Downing Street confirmed that beer gardens will not reopen before the end of the month. There is still no official date but government guidance suggests that the hospitality sector (including accommodation) could reopen on 4 July subject to “detailed scientific advice” on the rate of transmission closer to the time.
The pub industry will be wanting this date to be firmed up shortly as most pubs will need at least three weeks’ notice to restock draught beers, bring staff back and put safety measures in place. There is currently little guidance to help restaurants become “Covid-secure”, although JD Wetherspoon has already set out the plan for its 875 pubs. This will include bar staff wearing goggles, protective screens between tables, one way systems and signs encouraging customers to order using the app. Other considerations will inevitably include staff training, menu adjustments and relocating excess furniture.
Ministers have also been looking at ways to help pubs and restaurants utilise outdoor spaces, including changes to the regulations governing which businesses can put chairs and tables out on pavements (including a reduction in fees and approval times). However according to the British Institute of Innkeeping, a quarter of pubs won’t be able to reopen in any capacity whilst the two metre social distancing rule remains in place, with only 2% of those who can open expected to make a profit. Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that he wants to relax the two metre social distancing rule.
Beer gardens in England will not be allowed to open before the end of the month, Downing Street has said, quashing suggestions that ministers were considering allowing pubs to serve beer outside from 22 June.