Pub and hospitality bosses cautiously welcome indoor reopening from May 17
Pub and hospitality bosses have cautiously welcomed the indoor reopening of UK venues but warned that firms will continue to lose money until restrictions are completely eased.
It came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality firms will be able to open indoor areas from Monday May 17.
He said they will be able to reopen these areas in line with the original road map out of lockdown after case numbers continued to decline in recent weeks.
Groups of up to six people or two households will be able to wine and dine inside venues in the third road map phase, with restrictions set to be relaxed completely from June 21.
However, industry leaders have warned that hospitality firms will continue to have “precarious” finances until the last phase of the road map.
From next Monday, customers will also be required to order, eat and drink while seated with table service, although there will be no curfew or “substantial meal” restrictions which had been imposed prior to the latest lockdown.
Customers will also then be able to meet in groups of up to 30 in outdoor areas such as beer gardens, which have been open since April 12 with “rule of six” curbs in place.
People in England will also be able to stay in hotels and visit cinemas, concert halls and other leisure venues in the next phase.
The Prime Minister said he will provide further details about the potential future for vaccine certification and social distancing measures in the coming month.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, said: “This is a much welcome and vitally important next step, as we continue along the road map to remove restrictions.
“There is a huge sense of relief within the sector, in particular for the six in 10 venues that were not able to reopen over recent weeks due to a lack of outdoor space.
“However, with significant restrictions still in place, this is a psychological opening rather than an economic one, with the profitability of the sector still a huge issue.
“This is why sticking to the road map and the removal of all restrictions by June 21 is absolutely crucial, enabling venues to finally operate in viable conditions, after 14 months of severely disrupted trading.”
Patrick Dardis, chief executive of pub group Young’s, said: “Young’s accepts the cautious approach the Prime Minister has been taking.
“All of us hope that this means that we can safely and sensibly get to the end of the road, when relaxation of restrictions are indeed irreversible.
“It has been a brutal 14 months for a sector that employs millions of people and contributes billions of pounds to the Treasury in normal times.”
According to the real estate adviser Altus Group, 99,045 indoor hospitality premises in England will be able to reopen on May 17 as a result of changes to restrictions.
Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: “It’s great that from next Monday we’ll be able to welcome our customers back inside our pubs and get more of our team members back to work.
“Since we reopened outdoors in some of our pubs in April, frequent spells of cold and wet weather have made it particularly trying for our teams who are serving our customers outside.
“Even though the vast majority of our of our pubs will be open next week, we’ll still be operating at significantly reduced capacity, so it’s essential all restrictions disappear as promised on June 21 so we can return to the full pub experience that people have missed so much.”
Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “While I welcome today’s announcement, we need to remember that hospitality operators across the country are not yet out of the woods.
“Many will be reopening for the first time this year, and all will be in financially precarious positions that will affect them for years to come.
“Although they will be allowed to reopen from next week, operators will continue to make a loss while measures such as social distancing, capacity limits and table service are still in place.”
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