Industry bodies have reacted to prime minister Boris Johnson ‘s announcement today that pubs and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen from next month, in the biggest easing of lockdown yet.
Hairdressers, hotels, campsites, outdoor gyms, theme parks and libraries are also allowed to reopen from 4 July, if they comply with Covid-19 social distancing measures.
Johnson announced that the social distancing rule was being halved to ’one metre-plus’ to free up thousands of businesses, with precautions such as face masks.
Here is how the industry has reacted.
Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality
“Having confirmation of the reopening date is a real boon and affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations. We are still awaiting the publication of guidance, and we have been working hard to make sure that businesses are fully equipped with our own reopening guidelines, but the initial clarity around the date is very helpful.
“While many venues will endeavour to reopen on 4 July, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued government support will remain crucial. Many businesses have been closed for months with no revenue and are now facing substantial rent and PAYE bills. We need financial help from the government, otherwise some of these businesses are going to go under right at the point at which they are allowed to open once again.
“Reducing the minimum distance will be a huge help to hospitality. The two-metre rule would have capped capacity for most venues at around 30%. That would have been totally unviable for most businesses and would have risked even more jobs and the futures of venues. Reduction to one metre should see most venues able to trade at around 70% of capacity, which could be the difference between failure and staying alive to see out the remainder of the crisis, particularly with added support.”
Helen Dickinson, CEO, BRC
“We welcome the prime minister’s announcement that the social distancing limit will be reduced to one metre from 4 July. This brings the UK in line with the WHO safety guidance. Retailers have worked hard to effectively implement social distancing measures during the pandemic and the safety of staff and customers will continue to be their main priority. The reduction will support shops, which have faced limits to footfall – and therefore spending – as a result of the distancing measures.
“The reopening of restaurants, bars and other services will also help encourage people back to our high streets. This is vital to reviving our town centres and we hope the public plays their part in supporting our local high streets. Every purchase we make is a shop helped and a job supported.”
Emma McClarkin, CEO, British Beer & Pub Association
“It’s great to know our pubs will be able to reopen on 4 July. This is an important step for us, but it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.
“Whilst the government hasn’t given us the three weeks minimum notice we asked for to get our pubs ready for reopening, thankfully as an industry we already started our preparations to ensure our pubs were ready to open when we were given the green light.
“It’s great to see the government adopt the WHO guidance and the examples of many other countries across the world who’ve safely reopened their hospitality sectors using one metre as their safe social distance measure.
“This will enable many more pubs to begin to get back on their feet and will help save thousands of pubs and jobs. We estimate that this decision will enable up to 28,000 pubs to open. It allows pubs more space to operate in, which is a big help from a viability perspective too. I also urge Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to adopt the one-metre guidelines to ensure consistency and ease of implementation across all pubs in the UK. We also look forward to hearing from each of them as soon as possible on the definitive dates for when pubs can open in each location.”
Miles Beale, CEO, Wine & Spirit Trade Association
“The opening up of our pubs, bars and restaurants comes as a huge relief to the businesses who were forced to shut down overnight and left in limbo since the start of lockdown. This includes the wine and spirit suppliers who have not been given the same access to business rate holidays and loans as the pubs and restaurants despite the sudden loss of their income.
It is right that opening up comes with some caution in order to protect the public and ensure that we don’t end up with a second spike putting us back to square one. We look forward to seeing the government’s guidance, including the additional mitigation measures for social distancing that is less than two metres.
This welcome news does not mean that the hospitality sector and their suppliers are no longer in need of government support. Recovery from the loss of trade over the last few months will mean that some businesses will not be able to open immediately or fully, and others will take years to get themselves back on an even keel.”
James Lowman, chief executive, ACS
“Convenience retailers will welcome the clarity and timetable towards more businesses reopening, especially where they trade alongside hospitality and foodservice outlets. We would encourage retailers to work with other local businesses to manage local issues like queueing outside different businesses.
“The move from two metre distancing to ’one metre plus’ will mean shops can change some of their current safety practices. We have led throughout this crisis by providing clear advice on how to comply with government regulations and guidance, and we will be help our members by explaining how the new policies can work in practice through physical features like floor markings and protective screens at till points.”
James Bielby, CEO, Federation of Wholesale Distributors
“It’s not a moment too soon for foodservice wholesalers who have been clinging on for three months with hardly any turnover and no tangible support from Government. However, the volume of trade even under the looser restrictions is unlikely to allow wholesalers to trade profitably once furlough ends, and we have to maintain pressure on the Treasury to give them the same financial support as their customers have had to help them restart. Many restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues have unpaid debts to their wholesalers, but will need credit terms to restock, so it will take more than consumer cash flowing up the supply chain to bring the sector back to life.”
Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Usdaw
”Usdaw worked with the British Retail Consortium on joint safety guidance for shops based on the two-metre rule and in our experience retailers have taken that seriously and are complying.
“It has taken a lot of hard work and effort to make the changes to encourage customers to follow social distancing of two metres in shops that stayed open throughout the lockdown. Non-essential retailers have also redesigned their stores on the basis of two-metre social distancing for their reopening. So we urge retailers to maintain their existing safety measures. Retail is working well under the two-metre rule, it is not necessary to reduce to one metre, which could compromise the safety of staff and customers and create confusion.
“Safety in stores also needs customer co-operation and I am shocked that abuse of shopworkers has doubled during the Coronavirus emergency. It is a disgrace that a minority behave this way, at a time when we should be pulling together to get through this appalling pandemic and we urge customers to observe social distancing. At no time should abuse be a part of the job. Shopworkers deserve respect.”