According to City AM, the announcement to ease the lockdown further has been hampered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 'last-minute' review into whether it is possible to reduce its two-metre social distancing rule.
It is understood that Covid-19 operating guidelines for England’s hospitality sector have been drawn up by the government and are ready to distribute.
The lack of clarity from the Government over when businesses in the hospitality can reopen has led to significant uncertainty among operators over whether they should be planning to reopen on 4 July; the date currently being mooted by Government as the day that hospitality businesses can reopen.
Earlier this week, industry trade bodies UKHospitality and The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) demanded that that the Government give a clear, definitive date for when businesses can reopen as soon as possible.
The BBPA has repeatedly said its members need at least three weeks’ notice to reopen so that they have time to bring staff out of furlough, prepare and reconfigure themselves to adhere to safety guidelines, and ensure they have fresh draught beer ready to serve customers. However, 4 July is now little more than two weeks away.
City AM claims the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) told members of its hospitality taskforce, which is comprised of prominent figures from across the industry, that the Government would confirm on Monday or Tuesday this week that the lockdown would be eased for the sector on 4 July.
However, multiple members of the taskforce have told the publication that the announcement had been delayed as the Government looked to see if it could reduce its social distancing rule to one or one-and-half metres, with one source saying: “The Prime Minister does not seem to be aware just how important it is to get the sector running by 4 July.”
Responding to the reports, a Government spokesperson said: “We want to be able to reopen pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes as soon as possible and it remains our ambition to do so from the beginning of July, but it must be safe so we do not risk a second wave of this virus.
“We are working with the sector at pace to develop guidance on how these businesses can reopen safely, and this will be published ahead of time to allow them to prepare.”