When will pubs and restaurants reopen? The new UK lockdown rules explained

Helen Coffey
A chalk board is seen at a local pub in Burridge, which offers take-away beer for members of the public: Getty Images

After nearly two months in lockdown, the UK started to ease certain restrictions on travelling to work, exercise and going outside.

New rules allow people to exercise outside more than once a day and spend time in parks and outdoor spaces – sunbathing and having picnics – even if they’re not exercising.

But what does this all mean for the hospitality industry?

Not only are pub and restaurant owners wondering about the future of their business but people are asking when they might be able to start drinking or eating out again, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Now, Young’s has said it plans to reopen its pubs by August, but that some with beer gardens could open up from as early as next month.

Will pubs be open again any time soon?

In the prime minister’s speech delivered on 13 May, during which Mr Johnson outlined a “roadmap” for easing lockdown restrictions, he didn’t specifically mention pubs and restaurants but he did briefly talk about the hospitality industry as a whole.

In describing “step three” of the lockdown-easing plans, Mr Johnson said: “At the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab stated that reopening pubs will be part of stage three in the government’s three-stage plan to ease lockdown.

Stage one starts included the return to work for certain industries, unlimited exercise and permission to use parks.

Stage two includes the reopening of some non-essential shops and the return of certain year groups to schools.

Finally, stage three will start from 4 July at the earliest, is said to have been when the government were to consider reopening pubs.

However, on Monday 8 June it was reported that pubs in England could reopen two weeks earlier than planned on 22 June.

Ministers hope to speed up the timetable in an attempt to prevent up to 3.5 million workers in the hospitality sector losing their jobs, it is claimed.

London-based pub group Young's previously said it “expects” to have opened its pubs by 3 August.

What about pub gardens?

Although there was much speculation over pub gardens reopening, this didn’t feature in the new rules outlined by the government.

While many of the relaxed guidelines focus on outdoor spaces because transmission is thought to be less likely outside, this does not apply to pub beer gardens or coffee shops with outdoor seating yet. It’s believed it would be too hard to enforce social distancing in this context.

It is said a group of ministers are looking at ways to help pubs to reopen outdoor spaces including beer gardens, terraces and marquees.

When will restaurants reopen?

Restaurants fall into the same category as pubs, and will therefore not reopen until stage three is rolled out, unless they reopen earlier than scheduled, alongside pubs, as reported.

“From 4 July, at the earliest, we’ll look at other sectors and that will include hospitality, but it will also include personal care and people like hairdressers,” Raab told Sky News’ Kay Burley.

“Obviously the proximity in those two sectors... is something where we don’t think we’re ready yet, given where we are with the virus.”

Currently restaurants are permitted to provide takeaway services if they are able to do so safely, while enforcing social distancing guidelines.

Many fast food chains, including KFC, McDonalds and Nandos, which initially closed their doors on 23 March when lockdown was announced, have since initiated phased reopening.

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