Trading restrictions must be lifted this summer, operators urge

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Lockdown easing: pub bosses have urged ministers to not introduce a Covid certification scheme to lift social distancing rules this summer
Lockdown easing: pub bosses have urged ministers to not introduce a Covid certification scheme to lift social distancing rules this summer

Related tags Government Boris johnson Legislation Admiral taverns Punch

Pub bosses have urged the Government to remove all restrictions on the sector from Monday 21 June onwards.

The Government’s unlocking roadmap outlines that by step four, occurring no earlier than Monday 21 June, it “hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact".

Ministers have confirmed that Covid-status checks will not be involved in the reopening of outdoor and indoor hospitality from Monday 12 April and Monday 17 May.

The Government is considering giving pubs the option to trade without a one-metre social distancing rule if they ask for customer’s health information on entry, according to The Times.

Pub bosses have said such checks, which may require a customer to prove vaccination, a recent negative test result or antibodies, are unworkable. 

“We need to hold the Prime Minister to what he said [that restrictions be lifted from Monday 21 June]” chief executive of Admiral Taverns Chris Jowsey told The Morning Advertiser.

Very nervous

The pubco boss said he was “very nervous” about the possibility of vaccine passports. “The practicalities are just impossible,” he said. 

In a situation where operators were faced with a choice of the policy, Jowsey said his licensees would make their own minds up but “my advice would be don’t accept vaccine passports for lifting restrictions which should be lifted".

“We should hold out very strongly,” the CEO said. 

Founder of The Oakman Group Peter Borg-Neal dubbed the idea "impractical, discriminatory and unnecessary".

He explained: "We are confident the reopening of outdoor areas will not drive an increase in infections – after all the reopening of hospitality indoors last summer did not do so.

"Come 21 June, we would rather maintain a Covid-secure protocol than have to deal with a vaccine passport system," Borg-Neal said. "Checking people’s details on arrival is a non-hospitable process and would present a minefield of difficulties.

"In any event, the notion that you would need to prove your Covid status to enter a pub but not to enter a tube train is entirely absurd.”

Punch Pubs chief executive Clive Chesser joined the calls to lift all restrictions from step four of the roadmap.

While Chesser welcomed the confirmation of outdoor hospitality reopening next week, he said this “should not be mistaken for the pub industry being back up and running again.”

Critical rules lifted

“Even those pubs which are able to open are likely to be trading at a loss, and pubs will only return to profitable trading levels once the restrictions are fully lifted,” Chesser explained.

“And so it remains absolutely critical that the sector fully reopens with no restrictions from 21 June on the back of the amazingly successful vaccination programme."

Commenting on Facebook, operator Mark Johnson said the policy would be “just one more reason for customers to drink at home.”

The operator said he was concerned his doorstaff bill would triple with a Covid certification scheme in action, staff would be vulnerable to abuse and customers would be put off.

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