The UK has 27,000 pub beer gardens that could host physically distanced drinking as soon as 4 July, the industry’s trade association has said.
Of the UK’s 47,000 pubs, more than half have outside space, according to the British Beer & Pubs Association (BBPA).
It said these pubs should be among the first to reopen during the phased lifting of lockdown restrictions which will result in some hospitality businesses being allowed to trade from early July.
“This would let people enjoy their local community pub’s beer garden in the summer sun,” said the BBPA’s chief executive, Emma McClarkin. “We want to explore all opportunities for our nation’s pubs to reopen safely and viably as soon as is possible. We are working with government to consider all the possible options for reopening pubs as soon as we can in a safe and viable way whilst meeting the required social distancing restrictions.”
The organisation has previously warned that thousands of pubs could go out of business if the Covid-19 lockdown persists until autumn. The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, said last month that pubs and restaurants would be “among the last to exit the lockdown”.
Post-lockdown pub culture could be very different, according to suggestions set out by UKHospitality, the trade body for the wider sector including restaurants and hotels.
In a document submitted to ministers, it suggested an end to service at the bar, with table service recommended instead.
Pub staff could also be ordered to step in to prevent pub gardens becoming too crowded.
A government taskforce is looking at ways to reopen pubs and restaurants safely. The BBPA said it was ready to assist with pilot schemes to test how establishments might operate under physical distancing rules. It asked for more clarity on the exact conditions that pubs would need to abide by in order to be permitted to open their doors again.
The government is reportedly considering steps such as allowing pubs to serve from outside stalls and opening up pavement space for table seating.
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