Pub beer gardens could reopen on June 22 - report
Pub beer gardens and terraces could reportedly reopen on June 22 under plans to save the beleaguered leisure sector from massive job losses amid the coronavirus crisis.
Ministers fear venues that could serve customers outdoors may miss the profitable summer season and be forced to fire staff, with up to 3.5m workers at risk from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and several other ministers calling themselves the “save summer six” were seeking to accelerate the reopening of the economy, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed officials.
Britain's hospitality sector was not due to open until July 4. Downing Street said no date had been set for the reopening of beer gardens, terraces and marquees. Pubs, hotels and restaurants have been hammered by the lockdown, imposed in march, with total closure leaving them with no sales over the crucial Easter and May bank holidays.
The cabinet was due to discuss the plan on Tuesday. Some scientists are worried that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting lockdown too early, risking a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, but he was now convinced the economy faced a cliff-edge unless it started to reopen.
The Sunday Times reported that Business Secretary Alok Sharma warned Johnson last week that 3.5m jobs were at risk in the hospitality sector.
Sharma has been asked by Johnson to make the case for cutting Britain’s 2m social distancing rule to allow for more customers to be served in commercial premises, the report stated, adding that the business secretary spoke to his Danish counterpart on Sunday to discuss the operation of that country’s 1m rule.
Robert Jenrick, housing and local government secretary, is reviewing planning rules to make it easier for pubs and bars to use outdoor areas. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove, transport secretary Grant Shapps, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden are also involved in the “save summer” project.
Sunak is among those who would like to see a full reopening of pubs and restaurants before July 4, with social distancing rules in place.
Some warn that reopening under the current 2m guidance will reduce capacity to such an extent that their businesses will not be viable regardless. “We need pubs to prepare for reopening completely on July 4 with 1m (distance),” said Simon Emeny, chief executive of brewer and pub owner Fuller’s.