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Tue 23rd Jun 2020 - Operators react as government gives green light to 4 July opening date and replaces two-metre rule
Operators react as government gives green light to 4 July opening date and replaces two-metre rule: Operators have been sharing their reaction after pubs and restaurants in England were given the green light by the government to reopen on 4 July. Prime minister Boris Johnson also said the two metre rule in England will be replaced from that date with “one metre-plus” with “mitigating measures” to reduce transmission. People are still encouraged to stay two metres apart when they can and other control measures in public spaces. Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers but limited to table service and minimal staff and customer interaction while the industry will work with the government on collecting information to support track and trace. The government is also planning a new law making it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside. The new legislation will be introduced in parliament later this week. Nightclubs, indoor gyms, bowling alleys, water parks, soft play centres, spas, pools and indoor leisure facilities will remain closed for now but Boris Johnson said they would “reopen as soon as possible”. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, holiday parks, campsites and most tourist attractions as well as theme parks and arcades will also open from 4 July. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said guidance for the sector would be released later today (Tuesday, 23 June), and the mitigation measures “would be a menu of options that you choose from as suits your business”. She added: “We are the heart of responsible socialising – it is what we do, it is in our DNA, so let's work with this to give consumers confidence. And, let's work with the government to deliver a successful reopening for our core hospitality businesses so that we can ease the lock-down for those that remain closed and unable to open. They too need a date, guidelines, certainty and support. Reduction to one-metre should see most venues able to trade at about 70% of capacity, which could be the difference between failure and staying alive to see out the remainder of the crisis, particularly with added support. While many venues will endeavour to reopen on 4 July, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued government support will remain crucial. Many businesses have been closed for months with no revenue and are now facing substantial rent and PAYE bills. We need financial help from the government, otherwise some of these businesses are going to go under right at the point at which they are allowed to open once again.” St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “The announcement provides much needed clarity and comes as a huge relief. We also welcome the prime minister’s announcement on reducing two-metre social distancing guidelines to ‘one-metre plus’, which will allow us to reopen our pubs more viably on 4 July. Now we have a firm date, we can fully focus on getting our pubs ready to reopen safely as we look forward to welcoming our teams and our customers back.” London Union founder Jonathan Downey tweeted: “Good to finally hear this news but we have yet to see the detail and how much of the guidance is ‘where possible’, for example on taking names and contact details for all guests. Ten days’ notice to reopening is a practical impossibility for many and, with one-metre distancing, economically unviable for most. But we will crack on and this is a start. If the first few weeks go well, I’m sure there will be further relaxation and I look forward to our nightclubs, music venues and leisure spaces opening at full capacity soon.” Hawksmoor said: “Our industry is heavily regulated. Everyone I know in hospitality is working so hard to make sure they can do everything to keep people safe. It’s crucial that the government, the industry and customers all do their bit and follow the principles of following guidance and common sense.” Sector investor Luke Johnson tweeted: “Why can cinemas and hotels open on 4 July but not bowling alleys? Have any of the scientists, politicians or civil servants who invent these mad rules ever been bowling? Such arbitrary and incoherent diktats. One’s respect for the government fades by the day.” SIBA chief executive James Calder said: “The prime minister's announcement is what the nation has been waiting for. But hundreds of brewers and thousands of pubs are still on the precipice. Many will struggle with table service only when ordering from a bar can be done safely. Beer sales will not return to normal levels anytime soon, so the UK’s brewers need a continued support package and a clear roadmap for how they will be financially supported. Government has failed to meet its own timetable, and failed to support brewers in the same way the rest of hospitality has been. While today’s news is a positive step, we have a lot more work to do yet.” The prime minister also announced a shift to move from mandated and enforced social contact to following guidelines and “using common sense”. But he warned “as we have seen in other countries, there will be flare ups” and the government “would not hesitate” to reapply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions – even at national levels. He said: "Today we can say our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end – the bustle is starting to come back. We will continue to trust in the common sense of the British people.”

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