Coronavirus: Pubs could reopen in July with social distancing measures, says minister

Ross McGuinness
·2-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND  - MAY 18: Stools are placed on a bar in a closed pub in Clapham Junction on May 18, 2020 in London, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Pubs and restaurants have been shut since March. (Getty Images)

Pubs could reopen in July with social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has said.

Environment secretary George Eustice said he is hopeful pubs can open their doors again in two months, as long as scientific evidence supports the move.

He told MPs on Tuesday that the government was “already working with the hospitality and pub sector to identify what social distancing measures they might be able to put in place to make that work properly”.

In his speech last week announcing the relaxation of lockdown measures, Boris Johnson said pubs and restaurants may be able to reopen this summer.

Britain's Environment Secretary George Eustice arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London ahead of the Government's daily COVID-19 update, on April 26, 2020. - Boris Johnson will return to work at the start of the week as pressure increases on the UK government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis which has claimed more than 20,000 lives. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Environment secretary George Eustice said pubs can hopefully reopen in July. (AFP via Getty Images)

Eustice said: “As the prime minister has outlined, we intend that the hospitality sector, including pubs, would be able to tentatively start gradually opening hopefully during the month of July – subject to the epidemiology supporting such a move.”

Last week, it emerged British pubs will have to throw away up to 70 million pints because of lockdown.

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 18, 2020 - Coronavirus: Twelve Pins pub boarded up in Finsbury Park- PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Pubs have been closed since lockdown measures were introduced two months ago. (Getty Images)

Last month, one of the government’s economic advisers suggested that pubs could reopen after lockdown by rationing drinkers to only three pints.

Some pubs are currently open, but only as takeaways.

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On Monday, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents the pub industry, called on the government to halve the two-metre social distancing rule.

It said guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested a distance of one metre.

Its chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: "Reopening in July will be great for those pubs who can meet the social-distancing measures required by then.

"However, it must be recognised that no two pubs are the same and for many, ensuring a distance of two metres will be impossible, keeping them closed for much longer.

“Actioning advice from the WHO for example to use one metre for social distancing from July would enable many more pubs to viably reopen."

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