Thursday 28 May 2020

UK Pubs and restaurants could reopen NEXT MONTH as Boris Johnson says roadmap is moving 'faster than previously thought'

Coronavirus UK: Pubs and restaurants 'could open next month'
Boris Johnson has indicated that pubs could be allowed to reopen as early as next month, giving Britons fresh hope of enjoying a drink in a beer garden this summer. The Prime Minister (inset top) told MPs he hopes to allow watering holes and restaurants to re-open earlier than July 4 - the date which has been set down in the government's roadmap out of lockdown. He says that the roadmap is moving faster than previously thought. Pubs and restaurants have been closed across Britain since the government imposed the coronavirus lockdown at the end of March. On Wednesday, Mr Johnson told MPs on the Liaison Committee: 'On hospitality... 

we are really trying to go as fast as we can. 'It is really difficult to bring forward hospitality measures in a way that involves social distancing. But I am much more optimistic about that than I was. We may be able to do things faster than I previously thought.' Pubs and restaurants face challenges over how to open under social distancing guidelines, with 80 per cent unable to follow the two-metre guidelines. However, Mr Johnson has ordered scientists to reassess the restrictions. In Paris, plastic shields separating dinners are being tested (pictured left), while one way systems could be used in pubs in Britain (pictured top right: A one-way system at a pub in Fulham). 

Pubs bosses have called on the government to change the social distancing laws to lower the current two metre rule, which they say will stop them from opening their pubs He said: 'On hospitality... we are really trying to go as fast as we can. It is really difficult to bring forward hospitality measures in a way that involves social distancing. 

'But I am much more optimistic about that than I was. We may be able to do things faster than I previously thought.' 

In the same meeting, Mr Johnson asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule in the 'hope' that it can be reduced.

The rule is thought to be the biggest barrier to the reopening of the hospitality industry, with 80 per cent of pubs unable to reopen while it is in place. 

The UK has one of the strictest contact gap rules in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one-metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

That is the distance permitted in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and China, while Australia, Germany and the Netherlands recommend 1.5 metres.

Last week pub owners warned that the two-metre distancing rule could keep 80 per cent of pubs from opening because of a lack of space. 
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said only 20 per cent of pubs would be able to reopen with two-metre distancing, but a one-metre gap between punters would bring the majority back. 
Meanwhile, bosses of Britain's biggest pub chain JD Wetherspoon have revealed their £11million masterplan to reopen the chain's 875 pubs across the UK.
Last week, bosses revealed plans to reopen 875 pubs within weeks - and while the blueprint promises social distancing there is no mention of the two-metre rule.
The plans include telling punters 'not to meet in large groups', while expecting them to sanitise their hands on arrival using dispensers dotted around the pubs.
Customers will also be encouraged to order using its app in order to limit visits to the bar, while punters will be encouraged to make use of its pub gardens. 
Meanwhile, schools and shop in the UK are due to open in the next few weeks with strict measures already being planned to keep children and shoppers two metres from each other as much as possible in both settings.  
Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark.
The PM replied that the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advice was that there was a 'considerable reduction in risk at that distance, compared to a smaller gap.
'My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down ... we will be able to reduce that distance which I think will be particularly valuable on (public) transport and in the hospitality sector,' he added.  
'Their answer is that that is what they feel is the right interval for us. We rely and have done throughout on the guidance we get from our advisers and that is what they think is appropriate at the moment but ... that may evolve.
'As you know Sage has changed its advice, for example on face coverings.'
Mr Clark asked if he would ask Sage to reconsider the advice 'in good time for shops and other places to consider their practice', adding: This has a massive impact on whether many workplaces can open.'

The Prime minister replied: 'I have already done just that.' 

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