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Government confirms 'ambition' to open some hospitality venues, including pubs and hotels, from 4 July

11 May 2020 by
Government confirms 'ambition' to open some hospitality venues, including pubs and hotels, from 4 July

The government has confirmed an "ambition" to open some hospitality businesses, including "foodservice providers, pubs and accommodation" from 4 July if its five tests for controlling the spread of Covid-19 are being met.

Further guidance on the proposal announced by prime minister Boris Johnson in a television address yesterday has been published this afternoon.

A three-stage plan was announced by the prime minister yesterday, in which the reopening of some hospitality businesses, with social distancing in place, would be implemented "no earlier than 4 July".

Hospitality operators have stressed that support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, must continue beyond reopening if large-scale job losses are to be avoided.

This afternoon's guidance explains that hospitality venues, along with hairdressers and beauty salons, are considered to have a higher risk of transmission than non-essential retail, which will undergo a phased reopening from 1 June, if the spread of Covid-19 allows.

If businesses are to reopen they must meet the Covid-19 Secure guidelines, which are due to be published later today. The government has said that "some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part". It names nightclubs and venues attracting large crowds as among those that could open "significantly later".

The document read: "In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new Covid-19 Secure guidelines.

"The government will also monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens. The government will establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places Covid-19 Secure."

Guidance has made it clear that if a spike in cases is seen, more stringent lockdown measures could be reintroduced. It added: "If, after lifting restrictions, the government sees a sudden and concerning rise in the infection rate then it may have to re-impose some restrictions. It will seek to do so in as limited and targeted a way as possible, including reacting by re-imposing restrictions in specific geographic areas or in limited sectors where it is proportionate to do so."

While details of social distancing requirements have yet to be made clear, the guidance does stress that it will be required along with other precautionary measures.

Among the advice given to the public is that face coverings are worn in public places, such as shops, ventilation is used to maximise the flow of fresh air and Public Health England continues to recommend people maintain a two-metre distance from others.

While the "ambition" for reopening is made clear in the document the government does warn not to anticipate "a quick return to normality", saying the only feasible long-term solutions lie with a vaccine or drug-based treatment.

Following the publication, addressing MPs in the House of Commons today, Boris Johnson said that step three of businesses such as hospitality reopening will depend on social distancing and "new ways of providing services". He added that the picture "varies across the regions, requiring a flexible response", meaning different parts of the UK may need to stay in lockdown for longer.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to make a further announcement regarding the furlough scheme tomorrow.

Image: Shutterstock

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