Boris Johnson reiterated that different households would not be allowed to gather in pubs over the festive period unless already permitted, at a Downing Street press conference last night.
The Government is relaxing coronavirus measures across the country to allow up to three households to ‘bubble’ up in private homes for a number of days around Christmas Day.
However, gatherings in pubs will be subject to existing restrictions under the new tier system. As it stands, pubs in most of the country are subject to a rule banning different households from mixing indoors, although this will be reviewed on 16 December.
The Prime Minister was addressing questions from the public in the wake of the UK approving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use from next week.
Katherine from Queniborough asked: “Will hospitality tier restrictions remain in place over the Christmas relaxation? Will families be able to socialise in pubs and restaurants or just in their houses?”
Letting virus run riot
Johnson responded: “I’m sorry to say to Katherine that we have got to stick with the guidance that we have set out.”
He added: “It would be a really fatal mistake now to respond to this good news by letting the virus run riot again, letting it get out of control by too much transmission over Christmas. So that's why we have got to stick very tightly to the tiering we have set out.”
Operators have criticised the Christmas-strategy, claiming pubs are safer environments than private homes owing to the sector’s investment in hygiene, ventilation and social distancing protocols.
The British Beer and Pub Association estimated pubs and bars had invested £500m into Covid-secure measures since reopening after the first lockdown in July.