UK hospitality industry urges government to scrap two-metre rule

Industry leaders in the UK are lobbying the government to scrap the requirement for tables in bars, pubs and restaurants to be kept at least two metres apart when they reopen next month.

A survey conducted by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SPBA) in conjunction with other members of the licensed trade has found that it would not be financially viable for almost nine out of ten landlords to reopen their doors if the two-metre distancing guidelines were still in place – potentially leading to more than 23,600 job losses within the trade.

In a survey of 318 Scottish pubs which took place between 11 June – 14 June 2020, only 12.8% of operators believe it is financially viable to open at two metres, in contrast 82% of pubs believe it is financially viable to open at one metre.

The survey was published as UK prime minister Boris Johnson missed his own deadline for reviewing Britain’s controversial two-metre social-distancing rule on Monday 15 June. Downing Street’s press office promised that a new inquiry would conclude “in the coming weeks”.

Pubs, bars and restaurants have warned that they would not be able to survive unless they could operate under a 1.5 metre rule, as in Germany, or better still, France’s one metre rule, which is also recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Under two metres social distancing, only a third of the UK’s pubs will be able to reopen, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. Under one metre, 75% could reopen.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said the government’s plan to review the two-metre social distancing rule is “a positive show of intent for hospitality but with less than three weeks to the proposed re-opening date for our sector, a crucial element of certainty is conspicuously absent.”

“If we want the reopening to be a success, we must have confirmation of the reopening date, alongside COVID secure guidelines for the sector, supported by a commitment from the Government to support tourism and hospitality businesses through a cut in tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty, an extension of the rent moratorium to protect from landlord activity and the creation of an autumn Bank Holiday.”

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