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Plans to open hospitality in June put on hold as 2m rule still stands

Plans for pubs and restaurants to reopen outdoor serving areas on 22nd June have been dashed this week by business secretary Alok Sharma.

During a briefing this week, Sharma said that the government continues to work towards the date of 4th July as the earliest opening date for hospitality, subject to its five tests for controlling the spread of Covid-19 being met.

The earlier date was put forward by chancellor Rishi Sunak and five other ministers hoping to prevent further job losses in the sector. Plans to relax the 2-metre distancing rule were also scrapped until further notice from government.

Sharma, commented: “We take advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and, when it is safe to do so, we will see if we can move to a smaller distance. We keep all these things under review.”

If the guidelines were reduced to 1 metre in line with other countries including France, Hong Kong and Denmark, some 75%, or 28,000 of England’s pubs would be able to re-open. As things stand currently, only a third (12,500) of pubs will be able to re-open, according to research from The British Beer & Pub Association.

Boris Johnson said at a briefing this week. “As we drive this disease down, as we get the incidence down, working together, I want to make sure that we keep that 2-metre rule under constant review.”

Further guidance for the hospitality industry will be published “as soon as we can”, the business secretary added.

Our MD, Alan Fox commented: 

“Whilst we appreciate that the Government is following the advice they are being given, the reality is we are one of the few countries still enforcing 2 metre social distancing. From small independent bars and restaurants to events and outdoor Street Food markets; our sector will find it near impossible to adhere to 2 metre distancing and break even let alone operate as viable profitable businesses. The 1 metre difference for our members, the events industry & hospitality sector as a whole is huge and could save or sink tens of thousands of businesses. If the Government want the hospitality sector to survive, it will need to either enable it to operate in a way that allows 1 metre distancing or commit to financing the sector fully until the distance is reduced”