In an announcement today (23 June), prime minster Boris Johnson confirmed that hospitality venues can reopen from 4 July, however the industry still awaits detailed Government guidance.
The opportunity for many hospitality businesses to return from 4 July was greeted with relief and praise. For weeks, the sector has been pressing Government for clarity.
The statement from Johnson detailed further easing of restrictions, as part of Step Three of the government’s plan to “return life to as near normal as we can”.
Pubs, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, serving customers both indoors (limited to table service only) and outdoors.
The reopening will be facilitated by the relaxation of social distancing from two metres to “one-meter plus”, and Johnson said that venues should collect contact details from their customers to help with the track and trace process.
Further guidance is expected to be published later today. Johnson said it is will encourage minimum staff and customer contact, and will include steps such as changing layouts, improving ventilation, providing hand sanitiser and changing shift patterns.
Commenting on the prime minister’s announcement, Kate Nicholls, chief executive for trade body UKHospitality, said: “Having confirmation of the reopening date is a real boon and affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations.
“We are still awaiting the publication of guidance, and we have been working hard to make sure that businesses are fully equipped with our own reopening guidelines, but the initial clarity around the date is very helpful.
“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.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said: “Whilst the Government hasn’t given us the three weeks minimum notice we asked for to get our pubs ready for reopening, thankfully as an industry we already started our preparations to ensure our pubs were ready to open when we were given the green light.
“It’s great to see the Government adopt the WHO guidance and the examples of many other countries across the world who’ve safely reopened their hospitality sectors using one metre as their safe social distance measure.
“This will enable many more pubs to begin to get back on their feet and will help save thousands of pubs and jobs. We now await the publication of Government guidance for our sector.”