The Government has released further details about its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, stating that some hospitality businesses could reopen as early as 4 July but that venues where social distancing will be difficult to carry out will not be able to open fully at this time.
The report reads: “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.”
This is likely to refer to busy pubs, nightclubs and possibly some restaurants that would struggle to limit social contact whether down to layout or the nature of the business.
The 50 page report, called Our Plan To Rebuild, follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s televised address yesterday evening (10 May) and contains only a few paragraphs that relate to the hospitality industry.
It confirms 4 July as the earliest possible re-opening date for hospitality, which is defined by the Government as “food service providers, pubs and accommodation”.
While venues that are liable to be crowded once lockdown is lifted not being able to open for some time will be bad news for many in the hospitality sector, there will be some relief that pubs are now being talked about in the context of reopenings following the sector’s conspicuous absence from previous Government briefings.
It had been widely speculated that cafes and other hospitality businesses with outdoor space (but not pub beer gardens) could be allowed to re-open first, however there is no specific mention of eating or drinking al fresco in the report, or in respect to cafes.
All businesses that are eligible to reopen will need to meet the Government’s new ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines, which will be released later this week.
The report also states that “in order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places” it will “carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt”.
The Government plans to monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world and is also planning to “establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19 Secure.”