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Vows to open on 4 July continue as pressure builds on government to provide clarity

19 June 2020 by
Vows to open on 4 July continue as pressure builds on government to provide clarity

More businesses have vowed that they will open their doors on 4 July come what may, as pressure grows on the government to provide clarity.

Officials have remained silent since the date was put forward as the earliest some areas of the hospitality industry will be able to open last month, frustrating operators who need time to prepare for welcoming guests again.

James Chiavarini, owner of Il Portico – London's oldest family restaurant – and Pizzicotto, both in Kensington High Street, has said both of his restaurants will be opening on 4 July.

Chiavarini said: "I already have bookings and I think one is almost full. People want to go out and they're either going to go to me or someone else. I'd rather they came to me."

The third generation to run the business described the government's failure to update guidance as "pathetic". He added: "Hospitality is the third largest contributor to the treasury's coffers. For the government to treat us with such disdain after all we produce for them is just ridiculous.

"My place has been mothballed for three months – I've got to make sure my guys are available to start at least a week before we officially open. We've got to disinfect and deep clean the place, go through all the kitchen hygiene stuff, make sure that everything is OK and deliveries are in. There's a hell of a lot to go through. It's harder to do a relaunch than an opening."

More than 50 beer and pub businesses have also written to the prime minister demanding answers today (Friday 19 June). Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "Britain's 47,000 pubs and 2,000 brewers have reached a critical moment and need a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.

"Our sector is burning through £100m a month just trying to survive with no cash coming in. That is simply not sustainable. We need a date now to give us confidence and clarity."

Among the operators who have said they will open are Tim Foster of Yummy Pub Co and Peter Borg-Neal of Oakman Inns.

Foster wrote on Twitter: "I don't care if I'm told I can or not, ours are opening. Boris might hear about it as the bolt unlocks on the doors."

In his own public declaration, Borg-Neal had said: "Oakman Inns will be opening all sites on 4 July. It would be irresponsible for us to delay as we would be putting jobs at risk.

"To open without proper forward planning would also be wrong. We cannot wait for the government to make a decision."

Speaking to The Caterer, Foster said that since the second week of lockdown the business has been making thousands of meals for the elderly and the homeless without a single case of Covid-19.

"I don't care about guidelines or a pack about how I can or can't open. We are the best industry at safety."

Chiavarini has also been helping his community throughout the lockdown, delivering supplies to vulnerable people. Since opening bookings he said customers have expressed "happiness and relief", having feared the business would become another victim of Covid-19.

Meanwhile Chris Stagg, operations director of Peach Pubs said bookings for six of its sites were being taken from 4 July, with 1,500 made in just four hours. He added: "Give the people what they want."

Hopes for clarity over reopening have grown after the Covid-19 alert level was reduced from four to three earlier today.

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