Pubs, cinemas and hairdressers could be the ‘first in and last out of lockdown’ after Boris Johnson said parts of Britain’s hospitality sector would reopen from July ‘subject to scientific advice’.
In a televised address on Sunday, the PM said that his government would reopen ‘at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’.
Cafes and restaurants are expected to reopen in two months because they can enforce a 2m (6ft 6in) distance. But it is not known when hairdressers, cinemas and gyms will open their doors.
Government officials have ruled out pubs reopening in July on grounds of enforcing social distancing guidance, meaning that British drinkers will not be served until at least August.
The British Beer & Pub Association has slammed the government’s tentative ‘exit plan’ out of lockdown, warning that the sector remains in ‘limbo’ and faces ‘severe uncertainty and financial devastation’.
Pubs, cinemas and hairdressers could be the ‘first in and last out of lockdown’ after Boris Johnson said parts of Britain’s hospitality sector would reopen in July in keeping with social distancing rules
In a televised address on Sunday, the PM said that his government would reopen ‘at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’ (pictured, a closed pub in Belfast)
Hairdressers are also not expected to reopen in July; it remains unclear if they will open in phase three (pictured, a young man cuts another young man’s hair on top of a closed hairdresser in Oxford)
Key points of Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit strategy
From Monday, people who cannot work from home are being actively encouraged to go to work instead of being told to only go if they must. But they should avoid public transport if at all possible.
From Wednesday, people can take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but only with members of their household. Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed.
But tough social distancing will still have to be obeyed with bigger fines for ‘the small minority’ who flout them.
Primary schools may reopen by June 1 along with the phased reopening of shops. But secondary schools will not reopen before the summer holidays. Parts of the hospitality and leisure sectors will reopen in July.
A new Covid Alert System is being set up determined mainly by the reinfection rate and the number of cases. The alert levels will be one to five and the higher the level, the tougher measures will have to be.
The PM said the UK had been in Level Four but ‘we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three’. Level One means coronavirus is no longer around while Level Five would be the NHS being overwhelmed.
Chief Executive Emma McClarkin said ‘if government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase… this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown’.
The intervention comes after industry leaders warned last week that 40 per cent of pubs (19,000 out of 47,000) would not survive beyond September without more financial support from the government.
Ms McClarkin said: ‘The industry was looking for a glimmer of hope today, a date to plan to and further financial support reassured. But it looks like we have more weeks of uncertainty ahead of us.
‘With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation.
‘If government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown. Despite this, the government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face.
‘We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating.’
James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) said: ‘This is a marathon, not a sprint and we continue to be at the core of discussions with government about how our heritage, our culture and our right to have a good pint in a good pub is maintained for the long term. We will of course not put any pressure on government to open pubs and taprooms ahead of when it is safe to do so.
‘But we will put pressure where it is needed to ensure our sector has a fighting chance of survival.’
Frank Maguire of Truman’s brewery in London told The Sun: ‘At this rate it seems unlikely that pubs will be open again before Christmas. Christmas is about as big as business gets for the pub industry. It will be a huge loss.’
Mr Johnson set out a tentative three-step ‘exit plan’ from lockdown ‘subject to scientific advice’, which made huge swathes of the leisure and hospitality sectors last to open their doors (pictured, The Grand Central in Brighton)
But the PM’s national broadcast has raised questions about the very survival of Britain’s pubs, cinemas, hairdressers and gyms which haven’t had business in months (pictured, a closed pub in London, the UK’s Covid-19 epicentre)
The British Beer & Pub Association has slammed the government’s exit strategy, warning that the sector remains in ‘limbo’ and faces ‘severe uncertainty and financial devastation’ (pictured, a closed pub in Belfast)
Officials stressed that pubs were unlikely to be allowed to serve drinkers in July, with pavement cafes and other outdoor venues the first parts of the sector to reopen (pictured, the PM during his televised address)
The PM has dropped the ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan in favour of a ‘stay alert’ version – from red to green
Mandy McNeil, co-chair of the St Albans Hospitality and Retail Association, said: ‘The government’s murmurings to date suggest later rather than sooner’. Jonathan Downey, Hospitality Union founder, told The Telegraph he believes a nine-month red holiday is vital to keeping restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars open.
‘More than half are thinking “we won’t be able to open if we don’t get nine months rent free”‘, Mr Downey said.
Last week, the British Beer & Pub Association warned that 19,000 of 47,000 pubs might never reopen their doors if lockdown is prolonged. This would leave 320,000 people without a job.
Hospitality, retail, food and manufacturing have all been hit hardest by an unprecedented period of economic inactivity caused by the outbreak of coronavirus, and exacerbated by lockdown.
A Bank of England report last week forecast that gross domestic product (GDP) could fall by nearly 30 per cent this year. Though Bank staff currently believe the economy would grow by 15 per cent in 2021, the contraction would be the most severe on record, and possibly since the 1709 ‘great frost’.
Mr Johnson warned tonight ‘this is not the time simply to end the lockdown’, and that his government was taking ‘the first careful steps to modify our measures’. The PM said that anyone who can work from home should do so unless it is impossible. He also said primary schoolchildren should go back to class in June.
Mr Johnson stressed: ‘Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity. We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health.
‘And I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big Ifs. It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down.’
How the government’s DefCon style five stage alert system for the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could work, from red to green
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