We made it! The fated date of 12th April has been and gone, meaning that the nation’s pubs, restaurants and bars are open for outdoor trading. The next major step will happen on 17th May, when we’ll be allowed inside again. The April date was scheduled back in February when Boris Johnson announced his “roadmap to recovery”. This timetable was confirmed after advisers were satisfied that reopening schools didn’t have a severe impact on case numbers.
These restrictions have been relaxed nationally. In a speech on Easter Monday, the Prime Minister said: “I want to thank you all again for your patience because it is really clear now that this is paying off. And it is your collective efforts, our collective efforts, that has given us that crucial time and space to vaccinate more than 31 million people.”
Let’s hope that things continue on the right track. Here, we’ll look at the current state of play for the hospitality industry, what the rules are for the key dates to come, and how we can keep customers safe.
Britain’s pubs and restaurants: Where we’re at
On Monday 12th April the UK’s hospitality industry reopened its doors once again – or rather, outside space. In this initial phase of easing, outdoor tables must be spaced in line with social distancing guidelines, with the ‘rule of six’ applying. Alternatively, if there are more than six people meeting, they can’t comprise more than two households. There’s no curfew and no requirement to eat while drinking, doing away with the “substantial meal” conundrum.
So far, so good; after this first week of easing, the public seems to have, by and large, behaved themselves. Sure enough, everyone is relieved to be back down the pub, so customers and business owners alike will be anxious to ensure we can progress to the next stage.
Looking to the future: What we can expect
Just under a month from now will be the next stage of lockdown-lifting, providing case numbers remain low. On 17th May, pubs and restaurants can reopen for indoor dining and drinking, however, the rule of six or no more than two households will still apply. Equally, hotels will be allowed to open.
However, the big date is 21st June. This is when all restrictions can be lifted, providing the government’s vaccination programme meets expectations. Nightclubs can open, live events will return, and wedding venues will receive advice about numbers. With regard to largescale gatherings like festivals and sporting fixtures, the government will assess the outcome of the Events Research Programme. This will involve a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run larger events.
What’s still up in the air
One thing that remains unclear is whether or not restaurants, pubs and bars will require a so-called ‘COVID passport’ for entry. This potential COVID-status certification scheme will apply to mass gatherings and indoor events, such as football matches and nightclubs. Naturally, some MPs are concerned about the implications of such a scheme when it comes to civil liberties – so we’ll see how this unfolds.
Meanwhile, pubs, bars and restaurants should remain vigilant and do what they can to ensure we remain on the right path. This means enforcing rules, maintaining hygiene, and looking into extra measures, like air purification. Together we can keep up the good work and keep a brighter summer on the horizon.