As lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the UK to varying degrees, many are highly anticipating the reopening of pubs.
And, according to the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), more than 75 per cent of pubs could reopen if social distancing measures were relaxed. But is the idea safe? Here’s what you need to know.
What would reducing the distance mean for pubs?
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said that if the two metre guidance stays in place, then just one third of pubs could reopen their doors, with many more facing financial difficulties and running the risk of going under.
The BBPA represents around 20,000 UK pubs, as well as the majority of brewers.
McClarkin told the Press Association that the required distance should be reduced to at least one metre.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that a one metre distance is safe, and many other countries around the world have opted for one metre distancing guidelines.
Ms McClarkin said, “We’re not asking unless it’s safe to do. It’s an internationally recognised standard of one metre, used in France, Italy and Denmark, which allows some kind of normality.
“Pubs are currently on a very highly tuned government life support machine. The longer they remain on it, and with all the other medicines they have to pay for, some won’t survive.”
The BBPA boss explained that once a pub has closed, “they are very, very hard to resuscitate”.
Nearly a million people across the UK are employed by the beer brewing and pub industry, with thousands currently being furloughed. Ms McClarkin added that jobs could be lost if the two metre social distancing guidelines remain the same as fewer staff would be needed.
When are pubs reopening?
In the 50 page document, titled Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, businesses in the hospitality industry, such as food service providers and pubs, could reopen in step three, which “will be no earlier than 4 July”.
However, Boris Johnson indicated that pubs and restaurants in England could reopen faster after he revealed that he had asked the government’s scientific advisers to reassess the two metre rule, saying on Wednesday 27 May that he was optimistic about reducing the distance.
In Scotland, pubs and restaurants can only begin to open outdoor spaces with physical distancing rules and increased hygiene rules in phase two of the routemap. Indoor spaces will be permitted to open (with social distancing measures) in phase three. There are no confirmed dates for when Scotland might be moving into phases two and three.