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Pub operators vow to open on 4 July, saying ‘we cannot wait for government'

18 June 2020 by
Pub operators vow to open on 4 July, saying ‘we cannot wait for government'

Pub operators have vowed to open their doors on 4 July, saying it would be "irresponsible" to delay further and they cannot continue to wait on the government for concrete plans.

Tim Foster, co-founder of Yummy Pub Co, 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."

He was joined by Oakman Inns founder Peter Borg-Neal, who had said: "Oakman Inns will be opening all sites on the 4th July. It would 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 it was "absolutely ridiculous that we're not hearing anything" after the government set out its road map for reopening on 11 May.

The winner of the Education and Training Award at the 2018 Cateys, who operates four pubs in London and Surrey, said that since the second week of lockdown the business had 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," he added.

He said reopening on 4 July was essential in order "to protect our teams" who have been on furlough and receiving only 80% of their salaries.

He also suggested that reopening pubs would help to address social and economic instability which had worsened during lockdown. "You've got people sitting in parks like I've never seen before, supermarkets selling out of booze, plus there's a huge issue with under-age drinking as it's not being controlled and monitored."

If pubs are denied the chance to reopen on 4 July, Foster said that he could potentially lose the whole company.

He added: "We had two hours to close-down a multimillion-pound operation with over £100,00 worth of stock – and we're tiny, four sites. There was no backing.

"If he [Johnson] keeps delaying we will have to put it in the ground. It's still costing us to operate – we paid all our suppliers, started the click and collect shop and the delivery concept, which helped massively. But now with the shops open I can't ask my customers to drive a 40-minute round-trip to pick up groceries.

"We've been told that there's a road map and we are sticking to the road map. Either they tell us the road map is no longer on track, so we can't open, or say to us, 'you can open'."

"We just need an answer – today, tomorrow, don't tell us it's just going to carry on into next week. The sense of frustration is coming out now from everybody. Initially we were respected as being a powerhouse in the economy. Now they're just taking the piss."

Last month Oakman Inns developed a blueprint (pictured top) for how pubs could operate within social distancing guidelines by using screens to create snugs, installing hand sanitising stations and operating a one-way system.

On 11 May prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the government's "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.

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