The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that pubs in England can reopen on July 4 after over three months of closure due to coronavirus. Johnson made the announcement as part of an easing of lockdown measures for hospitality, culture and tourism to help kickstart Britain’s stalled economy.
Lawmakers in parliament cheered as he called time on the first countrywide closures of all pubs since the Great Plague of 1665, and following a record slump in beer sales. Calling the moves an end to the country’s “national hibernation”, Johnson said there must be “minimum contact” between staff and customers, with table service only.
Regulars would also have to give contact details in case of any local outbreak. “I can’t wait to get back to the pub… and I don’t even drink,” tweeted finance minister Rishi Sunak, calling the package of easing measures “good news for business”.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said sales of beer slumped to their lowest level on record in the first quarter of this year, and the industry faced a “cliff edge”. Johnson has acknowledged the closures on March 20 were “extraordinary” and took away “the inalienable right” of Britons to go to the pub. He has faced lobbying, particularly from pub and restaurant-owners, to relax the two-metre social distancing rule to help businesses get back on their feet. “Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should,” he said, announcing the results of a review into the guidance. “But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre plus while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.”
Cinemas, museums and galleries will also reopen on July 4, as well as restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfast (B&B) and self-catering accommodation.