While reiterating that all pubs must be free to reopen from 4 July in keeping with the Government’s lockdown exit strategy, the trade body demanded clarity on when beer gardens could reopen after a group of six ministers were reported to be pushing for outdoor trade to resume on 22 June.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA), the ‘Save Summer Six’, which is said to include Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, is believed to be investigating ways to help pubs reopen as early as 22 June using beer gardens, terraces and marquees according to The Financial Times as it looks to save 3.5m hospitality sector jobs.
While the BBPA estimates that there are some 27,000 pubs across the UK with beer gardens – more than half of the 47,000 in total – the trade body argues that it is not immediately clear how many of those will reopen without a definitive date, sufficient notice to plan their return, and finalised safety guidelines, including a decision on one or two-metre social distancing.
A survey of the British Institute of Innkeeping’s 8,500 members found that 61% felt confident about managing the flow of staff and customers around outdoor spaces, compared to 32% for indoor spaces.
Need for urgent clarity
“We’ve always wanted to reopen our nation’s pubs safely and viably as soon as possible, but we urgently need a clear decision on whether we can reopen pub beer gardens early,” the BBPA’s chief executive Emma McClarkin said.
“We also seek urgent confirmation from the Government on a definitive date when pub beer gardens will be able to open. Regardless of whether pub beer gardens can reopen earlier, it is imperative the Government enables all pubs to be free to reopen from 4 July as indicated on its roadmap.”
Having previously stated that pubs need at least three weeks to prepare for reopening – which wouldn’t be an option should the Save Summer Six’s plans for a 22 June restart go ahead – McClarkin added that the industry needs confirmed and definitive dates so pubs could properly prepare themselves to trade.
“That includes getting safety measures in place and restocking with fresh draught beer ready to be served inside and outside of our wonderful local pubs. This requires a minimum of three weeks but, ideally, four weeks is needed.
“The speculated date of 22 June gives us only two weeks to get ready, which may not be enough time – hence why we need urgent clarity and a definite date from the Government.”
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