According to media reports, UK government ministers are targeting 22 June as a date when they hope to reopen pubs and restaurants for outdoor dining.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday (7 June) that, while no official date has been set for the reopening of beer gardens, outdoor terraces and marquees, three senior Whitehall official have stated that 22 June is the target.
Previously, the government stated that pubs and other hospitality outlets may start to reopen from 4 July – step three in Covid-19 recovery strategy – providing they are Covid-secure.
The Daily Mail reports that there is a plan to double the length of time that pubs are permitted to erect marquees, from 28 to 56 days, to allow them to plan for and trade during inclement weather. In addition, cafés and restaurants wishing to put tables and chairs out on pavements will face less of a wait for the necessary outdoor seating licence. The government is considering reducing the approval time, a process which can take weeks, and remove the fee, which can be as much as £500 per year.
According to the Sunday Times, Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Business Secretary Alok Sharma last Tuesday to discuss job losses in the hospitality sector. On hearing that the failure to reopen the sector in time for summer could cost the industry 3.5 million jobs, Johnson was said to have uttered the word: “Christ!”
Sharma is believed to have been asked by Johnson to make an argument for reducing the two-metre social distancing rule to allow businesses to reopen with more customers.
Other countries, including France and Denmark, currently operate with a one-metre rule, while in Germany and the Netherlands, it’s 1.5 metres.
The paper reported that the prime minister signed off new measures to reopen the economy last Friday, following a meeting with Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The FT reports that Sunak is one of the “save summer six”, a group of ministers aiming to speed up the reopening of the economy.
A meeting to discuss the measures is expected to take place tomorrow (9 June).