UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced bars and restaurants will be able to offer table service from 4 July , and has revised the two-metre social distancing rule.
Addressing the House of Commons on 23 June, Johnson said on-trade venues will be able to welcome customers from next Saturday, but only offer table service. Tables will also need to be spaced at least one metre apart.
In addition, venues will also be asked to collect contact details from customers in order for them to effectively use ‘track and trace’, so outbreaks can be monitored and better managed.
“At every stage, caution will remain our watch word,” Johnson said. “Each step will be conditional and reversible.”
While England’s bars can re-open next week, the rules are different elsewhere in the UK. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said they will be able to open on 15 July.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the announcement will be 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.”
Restaurants and bars in the UK have been closed since 20 March and only allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services as the country went into its own coronavirus lockdown.
Beale warned that months of hibernation have left many venues unable to reopen or function normally now measures are being lifted.
“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.”
Nick Mackenzie, the CEO of pub group Greene King, was also relieved that the date was confirmed and the two-metre rule scrapped.
“It is a welcome relief for pub operators, our team members who want to get back to work and of course our customers who have been missing their local pub,” he said.
“We now urgently need the detailed government guidelines so that we can check we have the correct measures in place to reopen safely for our team members and customers.”