In Brief

Pubs set for June reopening in bid to ‘save the summer’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak leading push by MPs for imminent hospitality industry relaunch

The reopening of UK pubs may brought forward to 22 June under a new plan to “save the summer”.

Rishi Sunak is one of six ministers calling themselves the “Save Summer Six” who want to speed up the relaunch of the hospitality industry in order to boost the economy. 

The proposals would allow some of the 27,000 UK pubs that have gardens or other outdoor spaces to serve customers for the first time since lockdown began in mid March, the Financial Times reports. And restaurants with outside seating could also be back in business. 

JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin welcomed the move but warned that struggling pubs “would still lose money”.

“Few pubs will be able to make a profit using outdoor space only but partial reopening will provide a psychological boost to a beleaguered industry,” Martin told The Guardian. “It will signal the intent of the government to make progress towards normality, which will be welcome.”

The government initially set a date of 4 July to begin the third phase of easing lockdown, which includes pub reopenings. 

The proposed timetable has been announced after Business Secretary Alok Sharma warned Boris Johnson last week that failure to reopen the hospitality sector in time for the summer could cost up to 3.5 million jobs, according to The Sunday Times.

Trade body UK Hospitality has told the BBC that allowing pubs to open this month was a step in the right direction, but that easing social distancing was more important

The organisation estimates that with the current two-metre rule, pubs would be able to make about 30% of normal revenues. But if social distancing regulations were reduced to one-metre, predicted revenues would increase to between 60% and 75%.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said that the proposed June relaunch “does at least give us momentum - allowing businesses to plan and customers to book. July 4 had always only been an aspirational date to start re-opening.

“This gives some certainty about the direction of travel. Some businesses have not opened since last November, because they are seasonal. It is important to start as soon as they can.”

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