Government Under Pressure to Weigh in on Early Reopening of Pubs With Beer Gardens

By Shabana Arif on at

The hospitality industry is set to open next month, and it seems that's going to be case regardless of where we're at with the COVID-19 alert level (still at 4), but with rumours that establishments with beer gardens could be opening before the end of the month, business owners want to know what the hell's going on.

Helpfully, the people in charge haven't stepped in to provide further clarification on anything, after the Financial Times reported that ministers were aiming for a June 22 reopening for pubs and restaurants that have the capacity to serve customers outdoors. The acceleration of phase three of the lockdown exit strategy comes amidst fears that 3.5 million jobs in the hospitality industry are at risk, according to business secretary, Alok Sharma. Sharma has been left in charge of putting together a case for the reduction of social distancing from the current two metres - something which popped up at the beginning of this month, with MPs suggesting it get knocked down to 1.5 metres to ease the burden on businesses reopening, which may struggle to meet the two-metre rule.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is amongst the group of ministers working towards getting pubs and restaurants open before July 4, and have taken the wholly unnecessary step of naming themselves the “save summer six” which sounds like a rejected title for a Enid Blyton book. The proposal has raised concerns from smaller businesses, who can't reopen on such short notice, and there's also a worry that landlords could start charging tenants rent from June 22, even if the businesses are unable to actually open because they're unable to meet the social distancing measures that would be required. JD Wetherspoon’s founder, Tim Martin, has chimed in - what with the 867-strong chain consisting of 700 locations with beer gardens - saying:

"Few pubs will be able to make a profit using outdoor space only but partial reopening will provide a psychological boost to a beleaguered industry. It will signal the intent of the government to make progress towards normality, which will be welcome."

The pub chain has previously discussed plans to reopen that involve staff wearing goggles, and installing protective screens between tables. Having had to step foot into a Wetherspoons on occasion, that should be the minimum requirements, pandemic or no. Just wrap everything in plastic so you're touching as little of the place as physically possible, ideally. Hopefully we'll hear more this week, with a cabinet meeting scheduled for today to discuss changes to social distancing measures. Until then, you can always order a takeaway pint! [The Guardian]

Feature image credit: Unsplash