As shops and businesses begin to reopen following the easing of lockdown restrictions, owners of pubs and restaurants are still anxiously waiting for the go-ahead.
We are now in Stage 2 of the UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy with non-essential retail starting to get going again.
Stage 3 is expected to see the hospitality sector – which includes pubs, bars and restaurants – start to reopen “no earlier than 4 July”, as long as guidelines can be met.
But what will it mean for pub owners? How can they operate safely and profitably with coronavirus social distancing measures in place?
What exactly did the Government say?
The Government said: “The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas).
“They should also meet the Covid-19 Secure guidelines. Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part. “
The Government papers says it will “carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new Covid-19 Secure guidelines.”
It will also monitor the effects of reopening similar venues elsewhere in the world.
Takeaway pints served by bar staff in face masks in London as pubs wait for news on when they can properly reopen and what the rules will be
(Image: Getty Images)
How will pubs be able to follow the guidelines?
Pub chains have been saying they will go bust if the social distancing rule of being two metres apart isn’t cut to 1.5m or 1m by the time they start reopening from July 4.
But expert advice is saying the two metre distance must be maintained because halving it increases the risk of getting coronavirus by up to ten times.
And the signs aren’t very good if you’re looking forward to going back to karaoke night or even having a jolly old sing-along to the classics.
That’s because pubs could be banned from playing loud music to stop customers having to shout over the top of it and spraying the virus much further, The Sun reports.
Government scientists are also said to be looking at a ban on singing and loud talking to stop coronavirus being projected across rooms.
Customers would also be told to put toilet seats down, move around the pub in one direction and avoid sitting in more than one place or stopping to chat to others.
A pub in London serving takeaway pints during lockdown as the hospitality sector awaits news on reopening
(Image: Getty Images)
Even pub beer gardens would not be able to welcome drinkers back until July 4 at the soonest, despite some previous suggestions they would be reopened earlier because they are outdoor spaces.
Proposals to allow beer gardens to open from June 22 had been reported in the Financial Times. But the pubs industry said it could not be ready in that short time.
The British Beer & Pub Association called for a fixed date to be given for pubs to reopen, saying pubs need three weeks’ notice to have draught beer delivered, arrange deep cleaning, get rid of out-of-date beer and train staff on any new social distancing measures.