What reopening plans do the UK's pub giants have?

Joanna Bourke

Numerous companies have been working towards reopening pubs, that closed during the lockdown, from July 4. This week the Prime Minister said he hoped the two-metre social distancing rule could be reduced and said the government is working fast to reopen the hospitality sector.

Here are the latest plans by a number of pub owners for when the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

JD Wetherspoon

The company, chaired by Tim Martin, has 875 pubs in the UK and Ireland. It wants to open them as soon as it gets the green-light from the relevant governments.

It is introducing a number of measures to cope with potential social distancing guidelines and to protect staff and customers.

These include drinkers sanitising their hands on arrival and following one-way systems to get to the bar.

The City Pub Group

The firm, chaired by Clive Watson, has 47 pubs. It plans to open a number of these as soon as it gets the green light from the government.

Sites that will reopen first will be those with large outside spaces, and also those that have large indoor trading areas where the group can space out tables. A second phase will follow.

Watson spoke to the Evening Standard this week about getting beer gardens ready for when the lockdown eases. A temporary bar will be set up in beer gardens or terraces, staff will take orders there using contactless payments, go inside to get orders, and customers will get them from an outside collection point.


The firm, led by Simon Emeny, has 393 sites (comprising 177 tenanted pubs and 216 managed pubs and hotels).

A Fuller’s spokesman said: “We intend to get some pubs open in July, in line with the Prime Minister’s comments. However, the number of pubs we open will be heavily dependent on the social distancing rules that are imposed."

The spokesman added: "We urge the Government to consider using the World Health Organisation recommendation of 1m – this will allow us to open a much larger number of our pubs at the earliest opportunity. We are looking forward to getting our pubs reopened and welcoming our customers – but the social distance is going to be critical in determining just what that opening plan looks like.”

Greene King has 1700 managed pubs and is currently working towards, and hoping for, a July 4 return date but awaiting confirmation from the government.

It said 29 London sites in its Metropolitan Pub Company division began offering a takeaway service from May 22. It is looking to expand this to further pubs in June.

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