The hospitality sector has welcomed the confirmation that the industry will be able to start reopening from the 4 July – as well as the relaxation of the two-metre social distancing rule.
Yesterday, the PM said the existing guidance on two metres’ social distancing “prevents all but a fraction of [the UK’s] hospitality industry from operating”, and that while it is still “recommended where possible”, the official guidance will be updated to recommend “one-metre-plus” where necessary, if “mitigations” such as face masks are used.
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nichols said having confirmation of the reopening date is a “real boon” and affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations.
Nichols said: “The government has given due recognition to how hard hospitality has been hit by this crisis. Our sector was one of the first to be seriously affected and we are going to be one of the last to reopen. Getting venues open again, even with social distancing measures in place, is the best way to secure businesses and jobs.
“The government has given due recognition to how hard hospitality has been hit by this crisis. Our sector was one of the first to be seriously affected and we are going to be one of the last to reopen. Getting venues open again, even with social distancing measures in place, is the best way to secure businesses and jobs.”
She added: “While many venues will endeavour to reopen on 4th July, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued government support will remain crucial.”
Meanwhile, the British Beer and Pub Association said the announcement was an “important step” for the sector and was relieved to see the government adopt areas of the WHO’s guidance.
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the BBPA, said: “It’s great to know our pubs will be able to reopen on 4 July. This is an important step for us but it is just the first step on what will be a very long road to recovery for our sector.
“Whilst the government hasn’t given us the three weeks minimum notice we asked for to get our pubs ready for reopening, thankfully as an industry we already started our preparations to ensure our pubs were ready to open when we were given the green light.”
McClarkin added: “It’s great to see the government adopt the WHO guidance and the examples of many other countries across the world who’ve safely reopened their hospitality sectors using one metre as their safe social distance measure.
“This will enable many more pubs to begin to get back on their feet and will help save thousands of pubs and jobs. We estimate that this decision will enable up to 28,000 pubs to open. It allows pubs more space to operate in, which is a big help from a viability perspective too.”
The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) also welcomed the new guidelines. Its CEO Janice Gault said she“acknowledges” and “appreciates” the considerable support Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA and her Executive colleagues have given to the sector.
She said: “Hoteliers are looking forward to playing a pivotal role in restoring tourism and contributing to the local economy in a significant way. It is imperative that we open in an orderly manner and that we put the health and well-being of staff to the fore.
“The size and diversity of the hospitality sector means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reopening. Across our industry there are many sub-sectors and widely different businesses models.”
She added: “The industry has gone through a period of considerable change and is keen to return to trading with the appropriate safety measures in place, and in a manner which is Covid-19 compliant. It is important that we mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.”