Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation yesterday to unveil Government plans to lift the UK out of Covid-19 lockdown. Phase three outlined that some parts of the hospitality sector could reopen as early as July 1.
During his speech, Johnson set out the basic requirements, approach and potential timescale for the return to work of many Britons, while recognising that many types of businesses will take longer to return to trade.
According to Johnson, the first phase of the CV19 restart plan will enable the British public to take unlimited outdoor exercise, starting from Wednesday 13 May, while phase two, planned to occur from June 1, will see some shops and primary school pupils return to school.
The third phase of the plan is said to see some hospitality businesses and public spaces reopen from 1 July, however, it was not specified which, leaving the industry with a sense of prolonged uncertainty.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The industry was looking for a glimmer of hope today, a date to plan to and further financial support reassured, but it looks like we have more weeks of uncertainty ahead of us.
“With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation.
“If Government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown.
“Despite this, the Government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face.
“We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said: “The Prime Minister gave us a sense of the shape of his plan and the journey ahead. Much detail will follow but the focus on saving lives, and saving livelihoods, is an important and positive basis for progress.
“Mr Johnson was explicit about his commitment to support those workers whose businesses are not able to return soon, and we remain committed to continuing our dialogue with the Government to achieve that.
“We have been calling for a more flexible, extended furlough system and today’s statement appears to leave the door open for that.
“UKHospitality has already been working up protocols for implementation in different parts of the sector, to allow venues to confidently open their doors when it is safe to do so. This is very much consistent with the approach of ‘Covid secure’ standards that the Prime Minister referenced.
“He recognised in his statement that some parts of business will be able to open and others won’t. We will work to ensure that the Government is well-placed to support those in hospitality that need longer, as well as on enabling those who are able to return.”
James Calder, chief executive for SIBA, said: “The Prime Minister’s statement this evening gave us a starting point and a methodology for how we will come out of lockdown.
“We need to see the detail of which sectors are included within ‘step 3’ but at this stage it looks like pubs and taprooms will follow restaurants, cinemas and cafes in July but if and only if we maintain control of the virus. That may mean that the partial awakening of our sector is still at least 8-12 weeks away.
“Whilst we thank the Prime Minister for recognising our sector directly in both his speech and in Government social media, 8-12 weeks is still a huge amount of time.
“In that intervening period our sector requires continued direct support from Government to ensure that the 1 million jobs in pubs, brewing and supply chain are preserved.”
“This is a marathon, not a sprint and we continue to be at the core of discussions with Government about how our heritage, our culture and our right to have a good pint in a good pub is maintained for the long term.
“We will of course not put any pressure on Government to open pubs and taprooms ahead of when it is safe to do so. But we will put pressure where it is needed to ensure our sector has a fighting chance of survival.”