Boris Johnson ‘earmarks June 22 to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen’

By | June 8, 2020

Pubs and restaurants ‘will reopen on JUNE 22 to serve customers outdoors’: Ministers dubbed the ‘Save Summer Six’ earmark date amid warnings three million hospitality jobs could be lost

  • PM Johnson is warned of 3million job losses if hospitality trade still locked down
  • Industry chiefs warn PM that the two metre social distancing rule is unworkable
  • Beer gardens in pubs could re-open on June 22 as bars in Europe are opening up
  • Group of six ministers ordered to draw up plans to reopen seasonal businesses

Boris Johnson has earmarked June 22 as the date when pubs and restaurants across the nation could be allowed to reopen, it was claimed today. 

The Prime Minister is believed to be keen to accelerate the easing of lockdown after he was warned prolonging the shutdown of the hospitality sector could cost more than three million jobs. 

It is thought that pubs and restaurants may be permitted to welcome back patrons in just two weeks’ time, although they will only be allowed to serve customers outdoors. 

The Government’s current coronavirus lockdown exit strategy suggested that they would not be allowed to reopen until July 4 at the earliest. 

Number 10 has insisted that no firm date has been set but three separate Whitehall sources told the Financial Times that June 22 is the date being targeted in ministers’ diaries. 

The Cabinet is expected to discuss the move at a crunch meeting tomorrow.

Any decision to bring forward the reopening of pubs and restaurants is likely to spark fresh concerns among health experts about the impact it could have on the rate of infection. 

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister remains under intense pressure to halve the two metre social distancing rule, with industry chiefs adamant it is unworkable.

Boris Johnson is reportedly targeting June 22 as the date when pubs and restaurants could reopen. He is also under pressure to reduce the two metre social distancing rule

Boris Johnson is reportedly targeting June 22 as the date when pubs and restaurants could reopen. He is also under pressure to reduce the two metre social distancing rule 

Al fresco service: A waitress in Turin, Italy. France, Denmark and China all use a one-metre rule, while Germany, Australia and the Netherlands all use 1.5 metres

Al fresco service: A waitress in Turin, Italy. France, Denmark and China all use a one-metre rule, while Germany, Australia and the Netherlands all use 1.5 metres

Boris Johnson targeting EU travel by mid-July

Tourists will be allowed to travel freely across the EU by the middle of July, as the government plans to water-down its travel quarantine policy ‘as quickly as possible’.

Boris Johnson wants to agree a cross-EU exemption, which would allow Britons to visit EU countries without having to isolate for 14 days.

This comes after transport chiefs attacked the Government’s economically ‘devastating’ travel quarantine, which was implemented on Monday.

But insiders say Mr Johnson wants the controversial policy, drawn up by his chief of staff Dominic Cummings, watered down as soon as possible, The Sun reported.

A fast agreement with the EU’s 27 countries is a top priority as senior cabinet ministers on the Covid-19 Operations Committee are set to meet this week. 

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The development on the reopening of pubs and restaurants came as: 

  • Tourists will be allowed to travel freely across the EU by the middle of July under Government plans to water down its travel quarantine policy ‘as quickly as possible’ with the PM seeking a cross-EU exemption for British travellers.
  • Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said air passengers arriving in Britain will simply ignore the new ‘rubbish’ 14 day quarantine rules as airlines launched a joint legal action.
  • Passengers arriving at London Heathrow Airport criticised the UK’s new quarantine rules which came into force today as they claimed they are unenforceable and will be difficult to police. 
  • Mobility data suggested that Britons are now travelling less than they were a fortnight ago despite draconian lockdown rules having been relaxed. The numbers showed there had been less direction requests for journeys by car, foot or on public transport in the first week of June than at the end of May.
  • Mr Johnson is preparing tough new laws to crackdown on foreign takeovers of UK companies which could threaten Britain’s national security amid growing concerns over China’s influence.  
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Mr Johnson will confirm this week that non-essential retail, such as clothing and shoe shops, department stores and electrical retailers, will be allowed to reopen from Monday, June 15. 

But government sources said the PM was also looking to accelerate the reopening of the hospitality sector, with outdoor venues such as beer gardens potentially allowed to restart this month.

‘The projections on job losses are pretty alarming,’ a source said. ‘There is a recognition that we need to get the economy moving, and it is possible that outdoor hospitality could get going again this month.

‘It is all conditional on the numbers moving in the right direction and the science saying it can be done safely. But outdoor hospitality – things like beer gardens – could happen quicker than people think. Indoors is going to take longer.’ 

Ministers are planning to double the time pubs are allowed to erect marquees from 28 days to 56, making it easier for those with gardens to trade in poor weather.

In a further sign of the Government’s focus on the outdoors, where the risk of the virus spreading is much lower, ministers are set to shake up regulations for al fresco dining. 

Cafes and restaurants wanting to put out pavement tables and chairs currently need an ‘outdoor seating licence’ from their local authority, which can take weeks to approve. Ministers want to slash approval times and are considering axing the fee, which can be as much as £500 a year.

Plans are also being drawn up to allow small shops, where social distancing is difficult, to operate market-style stalls on the pavement outside. And Tory MPs are joining the hospitality sector in warning that there is little prospect of a recovery while the two metre rule remains.

Viva Espana! The bar terraces in Palma, Majorca welcomed their first customers yesterday. Boris Johnson wants to fast-track the reopening of outdoor hospitality within weeks after being warned that 3.5 million jobs could be lost this summer if the sector remains locked down

Viva Espana! The bar terraces in Palma, Majorca welcomed their first customers yesterday. Boris Johnson wants to fast-track the reopening of outdoor hospitality within weeks after being warned that 3.5 million jobs could be lost this summer if the sector remains locked down

Coffee and screen: Cafe customers in Paris’s Latin Quarter. The Prime Minister is also under mounting pressure to halve the two-metre social distancing rule, which industry chiefs say is unworkable

Coffee and screen: Cafe customers in Paris’s Latin Quarter. The Prime Minister is also under mounting pressure to halve the two-metre social distancing rule, which industry chiefs say is unworkable

Travellers hit out at new quarantine rules

Passengers arriving at London Heathrow Airport criticised the UK’s new quarantine rules today, claiming that they are unenforceable and will be difficult to police.

Under the new rules, which came into force as of this morning, all those arriving in Britain – including UK nationals – will be asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.

Passengers on three flights different flights arriving at Heathrow from the US told MailOnline that they were asked to fill in an online form ahead of their journey, detailing where they will be staying.

Upon arrival, they were asked by immigration controllers the details they had provided on the form, but no specific checks were carried out to verify it. 

France, Denmark and China all use a one metre rule, while Germany, Australia and the Netherlands all use 1.5 metres.

Mr Johnson indicated last week that he was sympathetic to reducing the limit, but government scientists warn it is not safe.

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Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the move was essential.

‘If we are going to get the economy fired up, we have to get hospitality open – the PM is right about that,’ he said. 

‘But the two-metre rule simply does not work for pubs and restaurants – it doesn’t work for schools or public transport either, come to that.

‘Other countries operate with lower limits and the World Health Organisation says one metre is enough, so why are we persisting with it? The scientists are just covering their backs.

‘They have no understanding of the economy and no interest in it. 

‘The PM has to break free of this trap and ditch the two-metre rule, otherwise we are going to have no economy left.’

Under the Government’s ‘road map’ for lifting the lockdown, the reopening of the hospitality sector is not due to be even considered before July 4. 

But the Prime Minister has been alarmed by warnings that the sector could collapse if it is unable to take advantage of summer trading and has asked ministers to accelerate the process.

At a meeting last week, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Mr Johnson that up to 3.5 million jobs could be lost unless hospitality was allowed to reopen soon.

The Prime Minister is said to have responded with ‘Christ!’ He has ordered a group of ministers dubbed the ‘save summer six’ to draw up detailed plans for allowing seasonal business to reopen.

Mr Sharma, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden are charged with removing the obstacles to the resumption of as much as possible of the tourism and hospitality sectors well before the school holidays. 

The push to rescue the economy has left Health Secretary Matt Hancock as the leading advocate of maintaining the lockdown.

Mr Hancock yesterday insisted there was no ‘trade-off’ between the economy and health – and said the measures should stay in place for as long as needed to prevent a second wave of infections.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he wanted to see the number of cases come ‘right down’ before a major relaxation.

He added: ‘People do ask me about the economy but my view is that the worse thing for the economy would be a second spike.’

Call time on 2m rule or pubs face carnage

By Patrick Dardis, Chief Executive of Young & Co’s Brewery PLC for the Daily Mail

Boris Johnson has a decision to make in the next few days that will determine whether hundreds of thousands of shops, bars, theatres, cinemas and restaurants are doomed to close for ever.

The Prime Minister has reportedly been spooked by warnings that up to 3.5million jobs could be lost if the hospitality sector is not allowed to return to business this summer.

Those predictions may terrify him now, but I want to tell him bluntly, he hasn’t seen anything yet.

My specific knowledge is of the pub trade, which had its own structural problems long before the pandemic. Sadly many of the 60,000 or so British pubs will close permanently, even if all restrictions were lifted today [File photo]

My specific knowledge is of the pub trade, which had its own structural problems long before the pandemic. Sadly many of the 60,000 or so British pubs will close permanently, even if all restrictions were lifted today [File photo]

It is difficult to know where to begin in outlining the numerous problems facing the hospitality, travel, and retails sectors because of Covid-19, but let me start with one thing that is easily put right.

We are almost unique in Britain in adhering to an arbitrarily established two-metre rule of social distancing. 

A gap of one metre is sufficient in many countries – including France, Denmark, Singapore and China – and most crucially it satisfies the World Health Organisation.

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Yet for reasons that no one can explain, we are sticking doggedly to two metres, and the Prime Minister, we understand, will stay with it until a mysterious scientific consensus emerges that will give him political cover to relax it.

I’m afraid it fits the pattern of contradictory and baffling policies that has become the hallmark of this government’s handling of the pandemic.

But the specific folly of the two-metre rule is that it renders it effectively impossible for a pub, restaurant, theatre or airline to operate.

Ministers deserve credit for the job protection scheme and other relief measures to business. But this will all be in vain if whole industries fall off a financial cliff once the furlough scheme inevitably comes to an end [File photo]

Ministers deserve credit for the job protection scheme and other relief measures to business. But this will all be in vain if whole industries fall off a financial cliff once the furlough scheme inevitably comes to an end [File photo]

People talk wistfully of a new era of outdoor drinking and dining, but you cannot open a hospitality business without toilets, and how can you operate those facilities with a two-metre rule? In addition, the vast majority of restaurants and pubs, especially in cities, do not even have gardens.

According to our industry’s best estimates, if the two-metre rule remains in force, only about a third of hotels, pubs and restaurants would be viable. With the limit adopted by most other countries, this rises to about 70 per cent.

My specific knowledge is of the pub trade, which had its own structural problems long before the pandemic. Sadly many of the 60,000 or so British pubs will close permanently, even if all restrictions were lifted today. But the carnage will be much, much worse if the rules stay as they are.

The trouble is that politicians tend to pull or drink a pint only during election campaigns. But I would like to take Mr Johnson to visit our shuttered pubs, which have been the heart of community life.

We gave away as much of our food stocks as we could; but in the basements of tens of thousands of pubs stand barrels of condemned beer, waiting to be poured down the drain when furloughed staff return.

Roughly two-thirds of pubs in the UK are operated as individual businesses, and I can tell Mr Johnson bluntly that if the two-metre rule remains in force, many thousands of them will simply not reopen because they know they cannot make a living.

The Prime Minister has reportedly been spooked by warnings that up to 3.5million jobs could be lost if the hospitality sector is not allowed to return to business this summer. Those predictions may terrify him now, but I want to tell him bluntly, he hasn’t seen anything yet [File photo]

The Prime Minister has reportedly been spooked by warnings that up to 3.5million jobs could be lost if the hospitality sector is not allowed to return to business this summer. Those predictions may terrify him now, but I want to tell him bluntly, he hasn’t seen anything yet [File photo]

Ministers deserve credit for the job protection scheme and other relief measures to business. But this will all be in vain if whole industries fall off a financial cliff once the furlough scheme inevitably comes to an end.

The Government’s scientific advisers urge caution about the two-metre rule, but that is what scientists do. Besides, two metres is both confusing and effectively unenforceable in any social situation, and certainly on public transport.

Leading us out of the lockdown requires weighing risk of the virus against the danger of economic paralysis, in turn leading to permanent social and mental health epidemics.

Only Boris Johnson can make these huge calls that will determine nothing less than the future of the economy. He needs to be out front and in command, not stuck in Downing Street agonising over conflicting scientific advice.

He must start by removing the two-metre burden on our small businesses. The measure is scientifically unfounded, and regarded as unnecessary by governments that have done a better job than our own in fighting Covid-19.


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