Pubs, bars and restaurants may be able to reopen in July as part of a gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Boris Johnson has announced.
The move was described as “step three” of the government’s roadmap for the lifting of the current lockdown, revealed by the prime minister in a televised speech on Sunday evening.
The measure will follow the return to work of people who can’t work from home, including construction and manufacturing, from Monday, and a possible phased reopening of schools from June.
“Step three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing,” said Johnson.
The PM emphasised that any changes to current restrictions would be conditional on COVID-19 infection rates dropping, adding: “Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity.”
Shops could potentially reopen from the start of June if they are able to enforce social distancing, and schools may partially open as early as 1 June, as part of the government’s roadmap.
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Pubs in the UK have been closed since March, alongside the rest of the hospitality industry, in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Last week the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) warned that thousands of UK pubs face the prospect of closure as they wait for a decision on whether they will receive a government backed loan, while some pubs have backed a campaign for landlords to waive rents while they cannot trade.
Just days after the lockdown was put in place, a charity was forced to turn away hospitality workers from a hardship fund it set up after being inundated with pleas for help.
Hospitality Action received more than 30,000 emails in a single day inquiring about its emergency COVID-19 fund for workers in trouble.