Pub and hospitality bosses have said they will “not get too excited” despite pouring pints for customers for the first time in more than three months.
Industry leaders have called for caution, warning that the sector’s recovery will take a long time, while more than half of venues remain shut due to ongoing restrictions.
Around 38% of licensed premises in the UK have the outdoor space needed to reopen today, according to figures from CGA and Alix Partners.
Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s, said the London-based pub group is still awaiting the next dates on the Government’s road map despite reopening around 140 pubs.
“Today is just a very small step towards getting our business back to anywhere near viability,” he said.
“However, let’s not get too excited as we still cannot serve indoors. Even on May 17, we will not be trading anywhere near normal.”
He said “we will get our lives back” when the final phase of the road map takes place and all restrictions on trading are eased, putting pressure on the Government to stick to its schedule.
Mr Dardis said: “The key day for UK pubs, restaurants, the economy and jobs is ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21.
“What is for sure, we need the Prime Minister to honour his commitment to the nation to ensure that June 21 is indeed ‘Freedom Day’.
“He must not be allowed to backtrack on that commitment.”
Roger Wade, founder and chief executive of Boxpark, said he was pleased to reopen sites but was critical of the decision to keep indoor hospitality shut and said more financial support may be needed for the sector.
He said: “Despite the difficult times our resilient industry has endured, we have remained optimistic and used this time to focus on progressing our future plans, as well as doing what we can to improve our current offering and visitor experience.
“While it’s great to be opening our doors for the first time in months, the reopening of hospitality has been delayed for far too long – and it seems nonsensical to reopen non-essential shops before hospitality businesses can serve customers indoors.”