Speaking during a Downing Street press conference last night (5 April), the Prime Minister announced that the country could move to the second step of its roadmap out of lockdown, which will also see non-essential retail and indoor leisure reopen.
As has previously been reported, both the hospitality curfew and 'substantial meal' rule will be scrapped, although wider social contact rules such as the 'rule of six' will remain in place.
Covid-status certification, more commonly referred to as 'vaccine passports', will not be introduced at this time, but pubs and restaurants will be required to gather contact details from all customers in group bookings.
The Prime Minister said: “I can confirm from Monday 12 April, we will move to step two of our roadmap – reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and, of course, beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.
“On Monday 12 [April], I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly, raising a pint of beer to my lips.”
Trade body the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the news, but chief executive Emma McClarkin emphasised that it was important to remember just two fifths (40%) of pubs in England – 15,000 – would be reopening for outside service and highlighted concerns over restrictions still imposed on the trade such as table service.
She said: “We welcome the great news that our pubs can reopen once more for outdoor service from Monday 12 April.
“That first pint back in the beer garden is going to be a special moment. People across the country have been looking forward to it for months.
“We expect 40% of pubs, some 15,000 in England, to reopen from Monday 12 April. Those that do open have invested a lot in ensuring customers are both comfortable and safe, making the most of the pub beer garden. We should remember though that those reopening will likely be loss making.
“With so many pubs still not opening though, it’s crucial the Government sticks to its roadmap and allows pubs to reopen indoors from Monday 17 May and without any restrictions at all from Monday 21 June. That is the only way our pubs can trade viably and begin to fully recover.
“We continue to have deep concerns over the Governments proposals around vaccine passports and changes to guidelines on how pubs will operate once they reopen. Not allowing customers to pay at the bar for food or drink in pubs, but allowing it in cafés or shops, is completely unfair and illogical."
The Government has confirmed that hospitality will not be required to impose the need for customers to provide Covid-status certification either when outdoor settings reopen next week, or when indoor hospitality unlocks under the third roadmap step, which is currently scheduled for 17 May.
However, it has not ruled out introducing them in hospitality settings further down the line.
“We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage," Johnson said yesterday.
"The idea of vaccination status for international travel is something all countries are looking at.
“I do think that is going to be part of the way people deal with it and we need to think about that."