Pubs will reopen outdoors first with full reopening from 17 May, PM declares

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Lockdown exit plan: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined his plan for a 'one way road to freedom' with scant detail on pubs reopening (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)
Lockdown exit plan: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined his plan for a 'one way road to freedom' with scant detail on pubs reopening (image: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)

Related tags lockdown coronavirus Legislation Health and safety Beer ukhospitality Boris johnson Public house

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed pubs will be permitted to reopen outdoors from 12 April and indoors from 17 May, at the very earliest.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, Johnson said the Government had drawn up a "cautious but also irreversible roadmap."

Pupils will return to classrooms on 8 March, with a full reopening rather than a phased approach. On the same date, it will be permitted to meet up with one person from another household in a public outside space for social purposes, rather than just for exercise.

On 29 March, restrictions on social meet ups will be further eased, with up to six people or two households permitted to meet up in outside spaces. This is to include private gardens as well as parks. This is when the official 'stay at home' order will lift too. 

Outdoor opening

Reopening pubs and restaurants outdoors is included in the next step of the 'unlocking' plan. 

No concrete reopening date has been given as this is dependent on whether the country meets certain criteria but it will be no earlier than 12 April, Johnson said.

An announcement will be made a week in advance.

He said: "We will begin to open our pubs and restaurants outdoors and there will be no curfew. The Scotch egg debate will be over because there will be no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal."

Pubgoers must still be required to order, eat and drink while seated, according to the 'Covid-19 response, Spring 2021' document.

Stage three will be from 17 May, again at the earliest, and include a full reopening of pubs with the rule of six indoors.

Step four will begin no earlier than the 21 June, removing all existing limits on social contacts and reopening all remaining closed sectors such as nightclubs.

Four tests

The four conditions that must be met at each phase of the restrictions easing are:

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows the vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of deaths due to the virus or the number of hospitalisations falling
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, putting 'unsustainable pressure on the NHS'
  • New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of easing restrictions.

The Government has provided an explanation for its strategy and the focus on reopening outdoor elements of society first, published on the website.

As it takes four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of easing measures and the Government wants to give society a week's notice ahead of changes, there will be five weeks between each step.

Johnson said the easing of rules would be gradual so as to ensure this was the last lockdown and the country was on a "one way road to freedom."

Pub sector figures lambasted claims that pubs would initially only be allowed to operate outdoor service, ahead of the official announcement. Research from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) found that just 40% of operators would be able to reopen​ under these trading conditions.

The Prime Minister is to address the public this evening from Downing Street, at around 7pm.

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