Hospitality sector welcomes lockdown easing rules in England
The hospitality industry has reacted with relief after pubs, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality in England were given the green light to reopen from Saturday 4 July as long as they adhere to social distancing restrictions which have seen the 2-metre rule halved to “1-meter-plus”.
BnBs and hotels can open on 3 July in Northern Ireland and 15 July in Scotland, while a date of 13 July in Wales is yet to be confirmed.
In a statement in the House of Commons today Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a provisional end to certain restrictions, although he kept the option to reimpose lockdown measures in the event of a rise on COCVID-19 cases. He warned: “We will not hesitate to apply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions at national level if required.”
Under the newly announced restrictions, when serving indoors, pubs and restaurants will only be allowed to offer table service, and venues will be asked to collect contact details of customers for the NHS Test and Trace system.
B&B Association chairman David Weston said:
“We are hugely relieved that finally, with just 11 days to go, the Government has confirmed that B&Bs and hotels will be allowed to reopen on 4th July.
We look forward to seeing the final guidelines for safe reopening when they are released. So far we’ve had to work on draft guidelines which may have been changed within Government during the last week or two, so there will be some frantic cross-checking by the industry when we see the final documents.
There is a huge amount of work to do, and very little time left now to do it in – and many questions no doubt – but B&Bs in England are keen to confirm their bookings for July and August, and get ready to open and welcome visitors on Saturday week.”
Commenting on today’s announcement of the opening up of the hospitality trade, Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“The opening up of our pubs, bars and restaurants comes as a huge relief to the businesses who were forced to shut down overnight and left in limbo since the start of lockdown. This includes the wine and spirit suppliers who have not been given the same access to business rate holidays and loans as the pubs and restaurants despite the sudden loss of their income.
“It is right that opening up comes with some caution in order to protect the public and ensure that we don’t end up with a second spike putting us back to square one. We look forward to seeing the government’s guidance, including the additional mitigation measures for social distancing that is less than 2 metres.
“This welcome news does not mean that the hospitality sector and their suppliers are no longer in need of Government support. Recovery from the loss of trade over the last few months will mean that some businesses will not be able to open immediately or fully and others will take years to get themselves back on an even keel.”
Tom Stainer, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said:
“Getting down to the pub for a pint with friends and family has been one of the things people have missed the most during lockdown, so it is fantastic news that people in England can start returning to their locals from 4 July.
“Understandably, this comes with a responsibility to do so safely and responsibly in line with the government’s guidance. CAMRA is urging all pub goers to follow the rules so that they can keep themselves, other pub goers, and bar staff safe.
“On recording customer details to help testing and tracing, this seems to be above and beyond what is being asked of other types of businesses. The Government need to make sure that this doesn’t disadvantage pubs and that the privacy of pubgoers is properly protected.
“Not being able to go to our local has made us realise just how important pubs are to communities, and in tackling loneliness and social isolation. That is why we need a second wave of financial support to ensure that all pubs – both those operating at reduced trade and those that cannot open safely under social distancing – can survive the next few weeks and thrive in the weeks and months ahead.”
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“It’s great to know our pubs will be able to reopen on 4th July. This is an important step for us, but it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.
“This will enable many more pubs to begin to get back on their feet and will help save thousands of pubs and jobs. We estimate that this decision will enable up to 28,000 pubs to open. It allows pubs more space to operate in, which is a big help from a viability perspective too. I also urge Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to adopt the one metre guidelines to ensure consistency and ease of implementation across all pubs in the UK. We also look forward to hearing from each of them as soon as possible on the definitive dates for when pubs can open in each location.
“We now await the publication of Government guidance for our sector. As an industry we will be doing everything we can to ensure both our customers and staff are safe in our pubs.
“We do have significant concerns over the collection and storage of personal customer data when visiting the pub. We welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to work with the sector to make this manageable as it poses significant logistical challenges. We will work with Government on how we could help collect data for track and trace purposes.”
Matthew Phipps, partner and head of licensing at UK law firm TLT, says:
“This is finally some good news for the hospitality industry. We have heard about phones ringing off the hook with people wanting to make bookings already – that just goes to show how desperately people are craving getting this part of their lives back.
“There are still lots of questions, such as a possible relaxation to allow off-sales, if only to let customers drink in the areas outside the actual licensed premises where this may not currently be permitted.
“The suggestion from the communities minister Robert Jenrick of a blanket permission to allow operators to place tables and chairs on pavements and streets, where these are closed to traffic, would further assist the sector in getting back on its feet.
“The challenges and opportunities will continue, and further guidance from the government will be crucial to helping businesses move forward with confidence.”