Pubs in England will be allowed to open from 6am on Saturday in a move the government hopes will help avoid a rush of drinkers as the lockdown is lifted, Downing Street has said.
In response to concerns that the reopening of hospitality and entertainment premises for the first time since 23 March would encourage irresponsible behaviour, the prime minister’s spokesperson told journalists: “The reopening of pubs and bars specifically comes into force at 6am. That would just be in the event anybody would attempt to try to open at midnight.”
Earlier, in a radio interview, Boris Johnson reminded people to enjoy themselves safely. “We thought about this carefully and I think we wanted to give pubs time to prepare and we wanted a date early in July. I hope very much that people will behave responsibly and enjoy summer safely,” the prime minister said.
Johnson’s response came after a phone-in caller suggested a weekday might have been more appropriate for the reopening, given the increased likelihood of drunken behaviour at weekends.
Asked why he had not chosen a Monday, he said: “I don’t think frankly it would make much …”
“You don’t think more people go out on a Saturday?” the interviewer, Nick Ferrari, interrupted.
“I hope that people will do this sensibly and safely,” Johnson said. “So just to remind everybody, it’s either 2 metres or 1 metre with mitigations, don’t forget to wash your hands or wear a face covering if you’re in a confined space.”
On Thursday, the Treasury was accused of taking an irresponsible approach to the coronavirus epidemic after its official Twitter account hailed Saturday’s scheduled reopening of England’s pubs.
“Grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July,” the tweet read, while a graphic carried the message: “Pubs are back.”