lockdown live

• LIVE: Gov keen to scrap 1m social distancing rule

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest updates and reactions to pandemic news impacting the pub sector (image: Getty/ twinsterphoto)
Lockdown live: The Morning Advertiser will bring you the latest updates and reactions to pandemic news impacting the pub sector (image: Getty/ twinsterphoto)

Related tags Legislation Health and safety Beer Pubs Wales Scotland England ukhospitality Bbpa

Coronavirus latest: the Prime Minister is keen to lift social distancing rules for hospitality venues next month, it has been reported

This live blog is now closed, please visit the latest live feed for updates about the pandemic and the pub sector.

12.17 - Vaccination push in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester will seek to vaccinate adults in the area ahead of the current jab strategy in a bid to tackle the Indian coronavirus variant.

The news comes after operators described a "familiar feeling of uncertainty" over the prospect of local shutdowns.

12.08 - New Covid-19 variant in Yorkshire

Public Health England has been investigating a new coronavirus variant, prevalent in Yorkshire.

There have been some 49 cases of the VUI-21MAY-01 variant, mostly in Yorkshire and the Humber region, since April.

However, health officials stressed there was "currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective".

Friday 21 May, 09.22 - Plans to scrap social distancing requirements on track

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to get rid of the one-metre plus social distancing rule for pubs and restaurants next month, The Times has reported.

He reportedly told Conservative MPs the rule represented the “single biggest difference” the Government could make to help hospitality venues recover.

Speaking to a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, Johnson said he felt confident the rule could be scrapped next month despite concerns over a variant of coronavirus first identified in India.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK of the B.1.617.2 variant has risen more than 160% in the past week, according to data from Public Health England.

However, there has been confidence over the efficacy of vaccines against variants.

15:04 - More optimism about the prospect of 'forging ahead' with the roadmap as planned

According to reports by The Guardian​, the Prime Minister has not lost hope of allowing all restrictions to lift on 21 June, in keeping with the Government's original post-lockdown roadmap.

While ministers are said to be considering diluting plans for “freedom day” in England and delaying the end of all social distancing rules amid another sharp increase in the Covid variant first detected in India, Guardian​ sources said there was now more optimism in Government than there was a few days ago about the prospect of "forging ahead" with the roadmap as planned.

Next week is expected to be crucial in judging how the variant may have spread and to assess its transmissibility, The Guardian​ stated.

15:01 - Pubs reopen as caution urged over virus variant

Pubs are to reopen their doors for punters after months of closure today as Brits are urged to remain cautious about the virus.

Pubgoers in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to order a pint inside a pub for the first time in many months from today.

England has initiated step three of the Government's unlocking roadmap, meaning the return of indoor hospitality and household visits.

However, a variant of coronavirus first identified in India has become a cause for concern after a spike in cases in several areas across north west England and London.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was believed the B.1.617.2 variant was “more transmissible than the previous one” but it was unknown by how much.

Read more here


(image: Andrew Parsons /No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

14:59 - Adnams forecasts return to full rent ‘later in the year’

Suffolk-based brewer and operator Adnams anticipates that its pubs will return to full rents later in the year provided there are no further regional or national lockdowns.

In an update on the London Stock Exchange dated 19 May, the owner of some 70 pubs across East Anglia said it is keeping “a weather eye” on the long-term future of its pubs and their tenants, and anticipates pubs returning to paying full rent later this year.

“We have continued to support our pub estate through cancelled and reduced rents throughout this challenging period and keep a weather eye firmly on the long-term future for our pubs and our tenants,” chairman Jonathan Adnams’ update explained.

“We anticipate pubs returning to full rents later in the year provided we avoid further regional or national lockdowns. The successful roll-out of the vaccine has come as very welcome news as have reports of their efficacy in those vaccinated."

Read more here


14:55 - Young’s explores tenanted estate sale

London-based operator Young & Co's Brewery has appointed Savills to handle the potential sale of its tenanted pub business.

The tenanted arm of Young’s, known as the Ram Pub Company, comprises just over 50 pubs, and accounts for 5% of total revenue. Its managed pubs division comprises in the region of 200 sites.

The pub company made the statement to the London Stock Exchange following a report by Sky News explaining that it had appointed the property agent about the potential sale of its tenanted estate.

“The Company confirms that Savills has been appointed and that it is in discussions regarding a possible sale,” it said.

“There can be no certainty, however, that any sale will proceed.”

Read more here


14:49 - M&B and Marston's reveal pandemic losses

Revealing their latest half year financial results, both Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and Marston's detailed nine figures losses during six month periods ending early April, as pandemic restrictions stung both pub giants.

However, despite takings tumbling by 79% during the six months to 10 April, the CEO of the firm behind Toby Carvery and All Bar One believes it can emerge from pandemic restrictions in a "strong competitive position".

In its most recent half year results statement, the Birmingham-based operator of more than 1,700 venues, M&B, revealed that revenue plummeted to just £219m from £1.04bn during the first half of the previous financial year.

What’s more, in the same 28-week stint, M&B posted a £200m loss before tax – versus a £121m loss in the equivalent period one year prior.

Read more here

Additionally, while Marston’s  revealed a £105.5m pre-tax loss in the 26 weeks to 3 April, the firm cites post-lockdown sales hitting 80% of pre-pandemic levels as cause for optimism.

According to its most recent interim results statement for the 26 weeks to 3 April, the Wolverhampton-based operator of 1,500 pubs revealed a total pre-tax loss of £105.5m – versus £31.1m recorded during the equivalent period in the previous financial year.

On top of this, Marston’s revealed that its total revenue fell from £343.3m during the first half of the previous financial year, to £55.1m during the most recent half-year.

However, the firm posted a net profit of £199.3m – compared to a £28m loss made during the equivalent period during the previous financial year – due to £291m made from the its disposal of brewing business into the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company​ joint venture.

Read more here


11.36 - Indoor trade gives pubs sales boost

Spending in pubs and restaurants has increased since indoor service was allowed to resume this week, figures from Barclaycard Payments show.

Fresh data found spending at pubs and bars since reopening day on Monday 17 May was 171% higher than the week prior while restaurant sales were 58% higher.

  • What has your experience been of opening week? Get in touch and let us know what your trade has been like on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

10.33 - Roadmap disruption would impact businesses 'a lot' 

Thursday 20 May, 09.25 - No lockdown end decision until next month

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed there will be no decision on the final lockdown easing step until 14 June, one week prior to the provisional date of 21 June.

21 June: officials will make a decision about the final lockdown easing stage a week prior to step four's provisional date (image: Tim Hammond /No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
21 June: officials will make a decision about the final lockdown easing stage a week prior to step four's provisional date (image: Tim Hammond /No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Step four of the Government's roadmap includes removing all legal limits on social contact and would see table service in pubs abolished and nightclubs allowed to reopen after more than a year closed.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Hancock said: “We’ve always known one of the things that has the potential to knock us off track would be a new variant.

That’s why we made the presence of a new variant that could do that one of our four tests when we set out the roadmap, which are the steps we must pass before going down each step of the roadmap.”

Early evidence suggested the B.1.617.2 variant, known as the Indian variant, was more transmissible than the Kent variant of the virus.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “increasing confidence” in the vaccine’s efficacy against the variant.

16.44 - Health Secretary to give update on variant

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to speak from Downing Street in a few minutes, with an update on the Indian variant of coronavirus.

It comes after surge testing was announced in Hounslow, Leicester and North Tyneside.

14.27 - 'Increasing confidence' in jab protection against variants

13.05 - Fresh figures reveal scale of pub losses

12.01 - 'Pubs need financial support if restrictions continue'

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls has called for a continuation of support for businesses should changes be made to the unlockdown roadmap.

“There is now an element of doubt surrounding the dropping of restrictions on 21 June, the situation will clearly be closely monitored but should the roadmap timings slip, it is vital financial supports are forthcoming, and that business rates are postponed until October.

"Businesses need a swift, publicly stated commitment that such supports would be in place in the event of a delay to step four, to give venues some reassurance as they look toward the challenges of viable trading”

10.44 - Licensees left in 'limbo' amid speculation of roadmap changes

The British Beer & Pub Association has urged the Government to stick to its unlockdown roadmap so pubs can return to making a profit from 21 June.

A BBPA spokesperson said: “The current speculation on changes to the roadmap puts pubs in limbo, serving only to prolong the uncertainty our sector has faced now for more than 12 months.

"As soon as the Government has clarity on the impact of the Indian variant and the actions it may take, it must inform the sector. 

"We urge Government to do everything it can to keep the roadmap on track so pubs can properly start their recovery from 21 June.”

Wednesday 19 May, 09.17 - Next lockdown easing step 'in the balance'

Professor Neil Ferguson has told BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme that the next step of lockdown is now "very much in the balance" amid the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant.

Roadmap: there has been speculation the Government may adapt or delay its unlockdown plan (image: Getty/marriaplo)
Roadmap: there has been speculation the Government may adapt or delay its unlockdown plan (image: Getty/marriaplo)

A local approach to restrictions could see the variant spreading in other parts of the country free from lockdown rules, he said.

However, the Government scientist said evidence suggested the variant may not be as transmissible as initially feared.

"Whilst the variant does appear to have a significant growth advantage, the magnitude of that appears to have dropped with the most recent data," Ferguson said.

On the issue of the roadmap being altered, UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: "The key issue is not just the date but also the conditions that apply at the time - all the social distancing rules come with a significant cost to businesses which mean that they are not viable. We need a parallel economic support discussion - to be announced at the same time."

There have been reports that pubs and restaurants could be forced to space tables apart beyond 21 June, should concerns about the variant continue.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to address the public at a Downing Street press briefing later tonight.

15.19 - Six pubs demolished or converted per week during coronavirus pandemic

13.35 - Waiting game over variant

11.41 - Operators urged to 'wait and see' over Indian variant

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls has urged operators to hold their nerve amid concerns of a coronavirus variant thought to be more transmissible than previous strains.

The Prime Minister will confirm the next step of lockdown easing a week prior to 21 June, on 14 June.

He has suggested the variant may pose "serious disruption" to the country's progress along the Government's unlocking roadmap.

Speaking to MCA’s​ The Conversation, Nicholls said: “This is about holding our nerve for the next two weeks while we go through a very jittery stage where the data is collected. We’ve all been through this process before, we just have to wait and see.

“There are still a very, very small number of cases and although there are worrying spikes, they are small in the overall numbers, and that is sign that the vaccinated are protected from this.

“Let’s not forget that only this time last week the Prime Minister was saying he was confident about 21 June, lots of ministers talking about removing every single scrap of restrictions."

Step four of the roadmap, earmarked for 21 June, would see all legal limits on social contact lifted.

10.31 - Greater Manchester pubs have 'always felt uncertain'

One Greater Manchester operator said he felt used to the uncertainty after the area had been hit hard by local restrictions in the past.

“There's always been uncertainty,” Simon Delaney from the Firbank Bar and Kitchen told The Morning Advertiser (MA). ​"We're used to it."

He said the speculation of local lockdowns for the nearby areas felt familiar after the region was placed under tough measures last autumn.

The operator said he would support action should the variant “risk everything” but it would be unfair if hospitality was targeted. 

He explained: “Hospitality is where they will pick on straight away, without any proof or evidence that it is hospitality [driving transmission]. 

“That is what I think it has been from the start. There's no indication that hospitality was where it was all coming from so that's the frustration.”

Tuesday 18 May, 09.18 - Local restrictions speculated 

Pub trade voices have responded to speculation over the possibility of local lockdown restrictions being reimposed in areas hit hard by rocketing coronavirus numbers.

Local lockdowns: there has been media speculation about what targeted restrictions could look like (image: Getty/Alena Kravchenko)
Local lockdowns: there has been media speculation about what targeted restrictions could look like (image: Getty/Alena Kravchenko)

The Times​ has reported that should the Indian variant take hold, local lockdown plans are to be based on tier four restrictions. This would mean the closure of non-essential shops and hospitality venues in certain areas with £18,000 grants available for businesses affected.

It's also been suggested that the next phase of the Government's lockdown roadmap could also be delayed for the whole country, with grants available for nightclub operators.

What's more, Politico​ has reported a Whitehall official as saying three scenarios will be presented to cabinet by scientists, no change to the roadmap, a national delay, or delaying certain areas. Their source said the third was the most likely option.

It comes as those in the hospitality sector have said they need certainty and not rumours.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme this morning, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said hospitality would only begin to turn a profit again once social distancing rules were dropped at the next stage of the roadmap.

Lord pointed out that yesterday (Monday 17 May) was the first day of trading for many pubs in the country who did not have outside space to open last month.

15.52 - What are the rules around hosting live performances indoors?

From Monday 17 May, pubs can host live performances and business events with a cap on attendance.

For indoors, this is expected to be 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity – whichever is lower – while for outdoors, this can be 4,000 people or 50% of capacity, again whichever is lower and events should be ticketed.

These capacity limits refer to attendees only so staff, workers and volunteers are covered by the work exemption and not counted as part of the capacity cap.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.50 - Clarity needed for 'beleaguered' nightclub sector

Voices in the night time economy have said the Prime Minister’s word have placed the sector “under a level of doubt.”

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has said nightclubs will need further financial support should they be unable to reopen on 21 June after being shut down in March 2020.

“Any delay will cost nightlife in England millions through lost revenue from torn-up plans put in place for reopening,” NTIA boss Micheal Kill said. “It would be a body blow for an already beleaguered industry."

He added: "If the Government is going to veer off the roadmap, they must act decisively and give businesses enough time to prepare and ensure proportionate levels of financial support and an extension of current reliefs are available for the businesses hardest hit by the change."

11.38 - 'The recovery starts now'

Loungers' boss Alex Reilley has shared his company's job creation plans

10.38 - What are the newspapers saying about reopening?

10.04 - 'Familiar feeling of uncertainty' for Greater Manchester

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has said he was "deeply concerned" after a number of ministers refused to rule out local lockdowns.

Local lockdowns: Greater Manchester was hit hard by local restrictions last year (image: Getty/Nodar Chernishev)
Local lockdowns: Greater Manchester was hit hard by local restrictions last year (image: Getty/Nodar Chernishev)

Ministers have said regional and local rules are not "off the table" amid concerns about rising case numbers in some areas, linked to a variant of Covid-19 first identified in India.

Surge testing is taking place in areas including Bolton and Blackburn after spikes in cases.

  • Are you a pub operator in an area with high Covid-19 rates or surge testing? Are you worried about the prospect of targeted restrictions? Contact rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

Sacha Lord said: "Greater Manchester has been in a state of lockdown for longer than most of the UK and we now find ourselves with the very familiar feeling of uncertainty about what the next few weeks hold."

"As local lockdowns and delays have now been raised as possible options to control the variant, the Government must come forward immediately and provide specifics on how nightlife businesses will be financially supported if these ideas do come to fruition, including whether business rates will be extended. Floating these ideas without providing this information causes unnecessary stress and anxiety to business owners."

Monday 17 May, 09.41 - Pubs reopen as 'heavy dose of caution' urged

Pubgoers will be able to order a pint inside a pub in England for the first time in many months from today (Monday 17 May).

Lockdown easing: pubs can reopen for indoor service from today (Monday 17 May) (image: Getty/ Drazen Zigic)
Lockdown easing: pubs can reopen for indoor service from today (Monday 17 May) (image: Getty/ Drazen Zigic)

England has progressed to step three of the Government's lockdown easing roadmap, meaning indoor hospitality can reopen and people can visit others' homes. 

Lockdown rules have also been relaxed in Scotland and Wales from today.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to enjoy their renewed freedoms with a "heavy dose of caution."

Surge testing is taking place in several areas thought to be hotspots for an Indian variant of coronavirus. 

Newspapers have reported that Whitehall officials are discussing the potential of delaying or adapting step four of lockdown easing, earmarked for 21 June.

15.01 - 'Stick to roadmap,' trade urges

14.22 - Adult entertainment venues to require vaccine passports, reports

The Sun​ newspaper has reported that adult entertainment venues will require customers to prove they have been vaccinated or are otherwise protected from coronavirus on entry.

This will be alongside other venues with large crowds such as nightclubs and sports stadiums.

11.04 - 45,000 pubs expected to reopen for indoor service

Some 45,000 pubs are estimated to reopen to trade inside from Monday 17 May, serving 3m pints, leaving 2,000 unable to open their doors due to limited space, one trade body has predicted.

As a result of the restrictions in place amid reopening, beer sales for Monday will be at 65% – 1.6m fewer pints than pre-Covid Monday trade – the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said.

The trade association also stated this was below the break-even point for most pubs, as they are unable to trade profitably with restrictions such as table service and social distancing in place.

Alongside reduced footfall in city centre and town pubs, venues reliant on standing or vertical drinking due to small footprints will be particularly impacted by the table service rule due to limited space.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Friday 14 April, 09.44 - Targeted measures could be 'reimposed' amid Indian variant concerns

The Government has said local lockdowns are not "off the table" when it comes to areas reporting worrying numbers of cases of the B1.617.2 coronavirus variant.

Lockdown live: the Government has said it would be prepared to reimpose regional measures to halt the spread of a virus variant (image: Getty/SouthWorks)
Lockdown live: the Government has said it would be prepared to reimpose regional measures to halt the spread of a virus variant (image: Getty/SouthWorks)

The Department of Health said there was "no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on severity of disease or evades the vaccine," but the spread of the variant was "concerning."

It said ministers "cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine".

Most cases of the variant have been focused in the North West of England or in London, with surge testing in the worst-hit areas.

There have been concerns the variant could halt plans to ease lockdown further next month.

16.57 - Listen: the latest episode of the Lock In

12.09 - Do customers have to wear masks outdoors?

A number of readers have asked whether customers must wear a face covering when outdoors.

The Government guidance for hospitality businesses states that customers and staff may choose to wear one at a venue.

However, it is only a requirement for customers and staff when they are indoors, including to use the toilet or make payment.

"They must keep it on until they leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it," the guidance states.

11.36 - Vote: what are your thoughts on mandatory calorie labels?

  • Do you have strong views on the Government's moves to force larger pub businesses to display calorie labels? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

10.25 - Scientists meet to discuss threat of one Indian variant 

Government scientists are to hold a meeting today (13 May) to look at the threat of the B1617.2 Indian variant of Covid-19 and whether it is more infectious than the dominant B117 Kent variant.

The i​ newspaper has reported there are concerns the final stage of lockdown easing (21 June at the earliest) may be halted due to surging incidences of the variant.

The variant has been “popping up in a number of places,” according to Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said.

It was "definitely an area for close observation so we can see what’s happening," Finn said.

However, he stressed that "the numbers are still relatively small."

Thursday 13 May, 09.18 - Calorie menu plans move forward 

Regulations will be laid in Parliament today (13 May) that require hospitality venues with more than 250 employees to display calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drink items on sale.

New rules: regulations will be laid in Parliament today (13 May) about mandatory calorie labels on menus (image: Getty/Mikhail Spaskov)
New rules: regulations will be laid in Parliament today (13 May) about mandatory calorie labels on menus (image: Getty/Mikhail Spaskov)

Calorie information will need to be displayed at the point of choice for the customer, such as physical menus, online menus, food delivery platforms and food labels.

The Government has said this will help tackle obesity while protecting small businesses. However, the pub trade has warned further regulations could strangle businesses as they look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Public health minister, Jo Churchill, said: "Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families, both in restaurants and at home. That is why we want to make sure everyone has access to accurate information about the food and drink we order."

Businesses will be able to provide customers a menu without calorie information at customers' express request, the regulations are to state.

16.00 - Hospitality 'needs seat at table' at Covid inquiry 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs that the Government will launch a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic next spring.

14.05 - Social value of pubs made apparent 

11.04 - What are the rules for pubs to reopen for indoor trading?

Following the Prime Minister’s confirmation pubs can resume trading inside from Monday 17 May, we take a look at the rules around indoor service.

Certain rules that were in place when pubs first reopened last July have remained in place for this reopening.

The 64-page guidance​ including risk assessment information and social distancing measures, was first published last May, ahead of hospitality venues reopening after lockdown one.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Wednesday 12 May, 09.16 - Welsh and Scottish pubs look forward to indoor reopening

Customers across England, Wales and Scotland will be able to sip a pint inside a pub for the first time in many months from next week.

Lockdown live: indoor reopening has been confirmed in Wales and Scotland for next week (image: Getty/AnnaStills)
Lockdown live: indoor reopening has been confirmed in Wales and Scotland for next week (image: Getty/AnnaStills)

First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford confirmed this morning that pubs would be able to reopen for indoor service from Monday 17 May.

Scottish pubs will also be able to serve alcohol indoors from next Monday, it was confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (11 May).

Up to six people from different households can meet up at the pub in Wales while the limit is groups of up to six people from up to three households in Scotland. 

However, there have been calls to end a 10.30pm curfew in Scotland.

15.01 - Operators furious after PM pictured inside a pub

12.51 - Pubs allowed to serve alcohol indoors in Scotland

Scottish pubs will be permitted to serve customers pints indoors from next week after the next easing of lockdown rules was confirmed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the overall situation as "a very positive one" and said most of mainland Scotland would be able to progress to level two of the country's levels framework.

  • Are you a pub business in Scotland? How will the easing of rules next week impact your business? Get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

Scots will be able to gather together in private homes for the first time in many months as well as head to the pub for a pint from Monday 17 May.

This stage of lockdown easing would “restore much more normality to everyday lives,” Sturgeon said.

Pubs will be able to serve alcohol to customers up until 10.30pm with customers permitted to meet in groups of up to six people from up to three households.

More people can meet up together at an indoor public place, such as a hospitality venue, than in private homes, where the limit is four people from two households.

11.50 - Compulsory calorie labelling plans to go ahead

Some pubs could be forced to display calorie counts for dishes on menus, it was revealed in a briefing note for the Queen’s Speech.

The Government intends to bring in fresh legislation forcing hospitality businesses with more than 250 employees to label food to tackle obesity.

The proposals were touted earlier this year, leading businesses to say there could not be a worse time to bring in further restrictions on venues.

10.56 - 'Reopening in name only' Scottish trade body says

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) in Scotland has urged the First Minister to reconsider tough restrictions on the trade.

The trade body says rules on opening hours, live music and social distancing mean it is a "reopening in name only."

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce later today that the country can progress to the next level of lockdown easing, which would permit alcohol sales indoors from 17 May.

The NTIA are calling for a "crisis summit" as it says some 39,000 jobs are at risk.

Gavin Stevenson, director of the Mor-Rioghain Group and vice chair of NTIA Scotland said: "For thousands of hard pressed Night Time Economy businesses being bankrupted by the commercially unviable levels system, 17 May is a reopening in name only. 

"While people in England can now hug and kiss friends and family, and huge music festivals are being sold out this summer, people in Scotland are forced to revert to two metre social distancing even to listen to an acoustic musician at level zero in the restrictions system.

"Our legal action is continuing at pace and we look forward to a day in court very soon where we will challenge the proportionality of all ongoing restrictions and the clearly discriminatory effects of the Coronavirus Restrictions Act 2020.”

09.47 - 'Ending social distancing is fundamental'

Scrapping social distancing rules will be key to the sector's recovery, pub bosses have said.

Co-founder of Inception Group Charlie Gilkes tweeted that the sector was "hugely restricted" until 21 June, when it is hoped table service will not be required.

Tuesday 11 April, 09.14 - 'Why hugs not clubs'?

Night Time Industries Association chief executive Micheal Kill said it was “bizarre and illogical” to endorse hugging in “household environments” while people cannot dance in hospitality venues.

Closed sector: clubs have been closed since the start of pandemic restrictions in March 2020(image: Getty/Michael Bland)
Closed sector: clubs have been closed since the start of pandemic restrictions in March 2020(image: Getty/Michael Bland)

He said data on coronavirus infections pointed to household settings being associated with more risk of infection than venues.

Kill added: “While we welcome the progression of the roadmap to recovery, we must clarify that the vast majority of hospitality environments and performance spaces operating with social distancing constraints are not viable. 

"Keeping social distancing measures in place will put many businesses at risk, further elongating the sectors recovery process.”

“Nightclubs and late-night economy businesses are still in a critical position, with no changes to restrictions or guidance until post 21 June,” Kill added.

The CEO questioned why the Government had decided “hugs not clubs”.

Kill said: “This looks and feels like the Government pushing nightclubs to the back of the queue once again”.

There have been Government pilots of large participation events without social distancing including at nightclubs and tonight's BRIT Awards.

Kill's words come after the Prime Minister announced pubs can reopen for indoor trade from Monday 17 May with table service and social distancing rules in place.

16.08 - 'Essential all restrictions disappear' this summer, says Greene King boss 

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has welcomed the expected announcement that indoor hospitality will be able to reopen next week but cautioned the sector needs all rules abolished to fully recover.

Mackenzie said: “It’s great that from next Monday we’ll be able to welcome our customers back inside our pubs and get more of our team members back to work. Since we reopened outdoors in some of our pubs in April, frequent spells of cold and wet weather have made it particularly trying for our teams who are serving our customers outside.

"Even though the vast majority of our of our pubs will be open next week, we’ll still be operating at significantly reduced capacity, so it’s essential all restrictions disappear as promised on 21 June so we can return to the full pub experience that people have missed so much.”

15.19 - Sector in Wales call on Government to act

A letter has been sent to the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, who was re-elected last week, calling for action to revive the pub and brewing sector.

Companies representing hundreds of businesses and the Welsh Beer & Pub Association (WBPA), asked for further financial support and more clarity on how restrictions will be eased.

Around half of pubs in Wales have remained closed as they do not have usable outside space, the WBPA estimated.

The letter asked for immediate grant support for businesses and confirmation that indoor trade would be allowed to resume on 17 May.

Businesses also asked for confirmation the rule of six for up to six households would be maintained indoors.

A clear timeline for removing all trading restrictions was desperately needed, sector bodies agreed.

13.49 - Chancellor asked to step in with support if restrictions continue

UKHospitality (UKH) boss Kate Nicholls has written to the Chancellor asking for more financial support to help pubs rebuild as pandemic restrictions are eased.

In a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Nicholls urged the introduction of further financial support to ensure the stability of the hospitality sector.

Nicholls focused on financial issues including rent debt and capital, which threatened “structural instability” for the sector if not resolved.

It was not possible under step two (outdoor trading) or step three (indoor trading with restrictions) for the vast majority of businesses to be viable, she added.

Businesses were also concerned that coronavirus measures such as social distancing and table service could continue into the summer months.

Nicholls said the Treasury must “stand ready to deliver extra support measures if there is any slippage in the roadmap that result in restrictions remaining beyond 21 June.”

11.32 - Almost 100k venues to reopen for indoor trade

Some 99,045 venues will be legally permitted to reopen for indoor trade on 17 May under step three of the Government's lockdown easing plan.

The numbers come from real estate adviser Altus Group, which said 37,515 pubs will have the option to reopen for indoor trade.

Some operators have lamented they cannot reopen on 17 May owing to social distancing requirements and their venues being too small.

11.10 - What will the Prime Minister say later?

Johnson is expected to state data supports the easing of rules at a Downing Street press conference at 5pm.

Today is one week before stage three of the Government’s roadmap, which stated no earlier than Monday 17 May, some restrictions will be eased.

As part of the guidance for England, pubs will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew will be in place however, operators will have to use table service only.

Also included in the third stage of the roadmap, other indoor locations such as indoor entertainment venues, the remainder of the accommodation sector and indoor group sports will be permitted.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

Monday 10 May, 09.34 - Eyes on indoor reopening announcement 

It is expected that the Prime Minister will announce England is set to progress to the next step of the Government's lockdown easing roadmap.

Lockdown easing: the Prime Minister is to make a statement from Downing Street this evening (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)
Lockdown easing: the Prime Minister is to make a statement from Downing Street this evening (image: Pippa Fowles, No 10 Downing Street via Flickr)

Boris Johnson will make a statement at 5pm from Downing Street, where it is expected he will give a green light to indoor hospitality reopening and household mixing from Monday 17 May.

It has also been reported the Government is set to release more flexible guidance on social contact, which endorses hugging and kissing between close family and friends.

When pubs reopen for indoor trade, operators will have to ensure there is social distancing between groups and table service will be mandated.

  • Do you have a question about the rules on reopening indoors? Get in touch and The Morning Advertiser​ will try to answer, rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

14.16 - Demand for pub pints causing supply issues in retail

12.03 - Pub trade has been 'victimised' by Government

The Morning Advertiser​ editor Ed Bedington has written a column following revelations of the number of outbreaks associated to pubs since last summer.

He writes: "We’ve been victimised by a government that claims to have no agenda against our sector, off the back of tiny numbers of infections. What was the infection rate in non-essential, and even essential, retail? Oh wait, they didn’t and don’t have to do any track or tracing.

"This Government should hang its head in shame for the way it has handled our sector, vilifying and scapegoating an entire industry than in reality, would been part of a solution to the problem, rather than painted as the main cause of the problem."

09.15 - Concerns after clusters of Indian Covid variant found

There have been growing concerns about one version of the Indian coronavirus variant with public health experts pushing for it to be made a "variant of concern," the media has reported today.

Coronavirus concerns: there have been worries about one version of the Indian Covid-19 variant (image: Getty/Grigorev_Vladimir)
Coronavirus concerns: there have been worries about one version of the Indian Covid-19 variant (image: Getty/Grigorev_Vladimir)

Public Health England is tracking a B16172 version which is thought to spread more quickly than two other versions of the Indian variant, the BBC said.

A number of cases with the variant have been discovered across the country, including in a care home where residents had been vaccinated twice, The Guardian​ also reported.

Some 48 clusters of B16172 have been identified, including cases linked to secondary schools and religious gatherings.

Kent, South Africa and Brazil strains of the virus have been categorised as "variants of concern" in the UK. 

Ministers have previously said the country is on track to progress to the next stage of lockdown easing on Monday 17 May.

The country must meet certain conditions​, including the successful continuation of a vaccine rollout and that it is certain new variants will not fundamentally change the risk of easing restrictions.

16.25 - 'Please don't complain about the cold'

Operators told The Morning Advertiser​ how they approached cold customers.

15.16 - Home-working here to stay, BBC report says

The BBC has found that almost all of the country's 50 biggest employers do not plan to bring workers back to the office on a full-time basis.

14.24 - Listen: the latest episode of The Lock In

11.43 - Beer gardens push through bad weather

Co-founder and CEO of Arc Inspirations, Martin Wolstencroft, tweeted a clip of his pint being covered by hail this week.

It comes as pub operators expressed their frustration after poor weather dampened trade and forced venues to close over the bank holiday weekend.

Thursday 6 May, 09.17 - Transmission report 'very encouraging' 

Trade body chiefs have welcomed a paper from Government scientists on the transmission risks associated with hospitality and said it is proof pubs were "unfairly picked on" with restrictions last year.

Trade voices: sector bodies have welcomed a paper from scientists on the transmission risk associated with hospitality settings(image: Getty/Selitbull)
Trade voices: sector bodies have welcomed a paper from scientists on the transmission risk associated with hospitality settings(image: Getty/Selitbull)

The paper included data on outbreaks in hospitality​ and leisure between 29 June 2020 and 14 February 2021.

There were a total of 107 outbreaks in pub settings, representing 16% of outbreaks across the hospitality and leisure sectors.

An outbreak was defined as two or more individuals testing positive for the virus with either an identified direct exposure in a setting, such as spending time in close contact, or an absence of “sustained local community transmission.”

Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said: “This study shows that pubs have been following all the guidance, implemented the necessary restrictions and are safe. It also shows that pubs were unfairly picked on by the tier restrictions last year.

“Moving forward, this study makes it all the more necessary for the Government to allow pubs to fully reopen without any restrictions from 21 June .”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it was "very encouraging" to see the paper mention eating out in venues was not associated with increased likelihood of catching coronavirus. 

She added: "The safety of hospitality venues is not in doubt, thanks to a huge investment from the sector into creating Covid-secure environments and this, along with continued falling rates of transmission, means that the Government must stick to its roadmap confirm indoor hospitality reopening on 17 May and the removal of all restrictions on 21 June.

"This will not only provide hospitality businesses with much needed certainty but considerably boost consumer confidence and help kickstart the economic recovery”

15.57 - Cold customers: let us know your experiences

How are you helping customers stay warm at your pub? Do you offer blankets or have you invested in heaters? Have you experienced hostility from customers about the cold weather?

Your view: have you experienced customers turning up in T-shirts and complaining about the cold? (image: Getty/Ridofranz)
Your view: have you experienced customers turning up in T-shirts and complaining about the cold? (image: Getty/Ridofranz)

The Morning Advertiser​ is looking to hear from pub operators on how they have adapted their offer for outdoor trade and customers' responses.

Please get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

15.39 - £80.8bn worth of sales wiped out in past 12 months

13.57 - Report reveals outbreak numbers in pubs

Trade bosses have said a paper produced by Government scientists proves hospitality is a safe environment.

The paper prepared by the Environmental Modelling Group (EMG) Transmission Group examined the coronavirus transmission risk associated with hospitality. 

Titled Insights on transmission of COVID-19 with a focus on the hospitality, retail and leisure sector​, the report was used in meetings held by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) in April 2021.

The paper looked at outbreaks in hospitality and leisure from 29 June 2020 until 14 February 2021, a period in which pubs were closed for several months.

An outbreak was defined as two or more individuals testing positive for the virus with either an identified direct exposure in a setting, such as spending time in close contact, or an absence of “sustained local community transmission.”

There were a total of 107 outbreaks in pub settings, representing 16% of outbreaks across the hospitality and leisure sectors.

Restaurants experienced 119 associated outbreaks, at 18% of the overall total.

12.11 - ‘Business rates cap will harm pub revival’

The Government must re-consider its proposed £2m business rates relief cap or face the continued “systemic closure” of pubs, according to Colliers International’s head of business rates.

As previously reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA),​ Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, announced that last year’s 100% business rates holiday for the hospitality sector would be extended three months to the end of June 2021 in his most recent Spring Budget​. 

Sunak explained that rates bills thereafter would be discounted for the remaining nine months of the financial year by two thirds, up to the value of £2m, for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to open, for nine months. 

Having crunched the Chancellor’s numbers, Colliers found that Greene King, Stonegate, Punch, JD Wetherspoon (JDW), Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and Marston’s combined business rates liability for 2021/2 will be £401m.

After three months’ relief, this reduces to a total of £301m, broken down as £101m for Greene King, £22m for Stonegate, £35m for Punch, £40m for JDW, £73m for M&B and £30m for Marston’s 

Reporting by Stuart Stone

11.18 - Bad weather leads to pub closures

Pubs and bars were forced to close this week as cold and wet weather hit the UK and dampened outdoor trade.

The Dog & Parrot in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire was one site to shut over the bank holiday weekend after it felt it would not be safe to operate.

The pub was hit by “torrential rain and strong winds” on Monday (3 May) after managing to remain open on Saturday and Sunday despite cold temperatures.

Other operators described difficulty trying to keep customers dry while ensuring outdoor structures had 50% of their walls exposed as per Government guidance.

Wednesday 5 May, 09.22 - Tourism bosses call for extra bank holiday

Tourism chiefs have called for an additional bank holiday at the end of September, to help the sector recover.

Businesses were hit by rain and cold weather during the early May bank holiday weekend, forcing some pubs to close.

Now, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), has called for a bank holiday to be added by Royal Proclamation.

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls also backed the idea on Twitter and said an extra holiday would be a "boost" for hospitality.

One day that has been touted is Monday 27 September.

16.40 - Adventure Bar Group acquired by Nightcap

Recently formed hospitality group Nightcap has completed its second purchase by acquiring the owner of brands including Blame Gloria and Tonight Josephine, Adventure Bar Group.

The deal, completed for an undisclosed sum, means Adventure founders Thomas Kidd and Tobias Jackson will continue to work within the business as Nightcap pushes its growth from nine sites up to 40 in cities nationwide.

13.17 - Reports of social distancing being scrapped but masks to remain

According to The Times​, the one-metre plus social distancing rule will be scrapped after Monday 21 June, and pubs would not be limited on capacity.

However, the newspaper also reported one-way systems and masks for those moving around venues inside may be kept.

12.08 - Operators lose High Court battle over indoor reopening

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the Government in a case over the reopening date for indoor hospitality.

The case sought to challenge the reopening date of 17 May and argued there was no evidence base for the sector to remain closed while other indoor businesses such as non-essential retail reopened earlier.

However, Honourable Mr Justice Julian Knowles said it would be “academic” to push forward indoor reopenings given the time it would take for a hearing.

The virus meant a precautionary or cautious approach by the Department of Health was justified, the Judge said.

The action was launched by night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord and Punch founder Hugh Osmond, who both expressed disappointment with the ruling.

The duo had hoped for a speedier ruling and said it took a while for the case to get in the hands of a Judge last week.

Tuesday 4 May, 09.16 - Nightclub pilot attendees 'overwhelmed with emotion'

Some 6,000 revellers enjoyed dancing and singing at events free from social distancing over the weekend in a Government pilot.

Pilot events: a nightclub in Liverpool was the first to welcome back revellers after over a year of enforced closure. (image: Getty/nd3000)
Pilot events: a nightclub in Liverpool was the first to welcome back revellers after over a year of enforced closure. (image: Getty/nd3000)

The Event Research Programme is running between 10 and 15 pilots in April and May across a variety of venues including cinemas, sports venues and nightclubs.

Those participating will have to be tested upon entry with the suspension of other measures such as face coverings and social distancing. 

Thousands attended events at Liverpool's Bramley Moore Dock Warehouse on 30 April and 1 May, featuring the artists Fatboy Slim​, The Blessed Madonna​ and Jayda G​.

Individuals who attended the First Dance and other events in the pilots will have to take a test a few days after the event too.

Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) boss Michael Kill described Friday’s clubbing pilot as “amazing."

He explained: “Artists on the night were overwhelmed with emotion at being back performing, and we have seen an amazing response online with thousands of emotional messages of support from the industry and public.

“This is a great step forward in educating the government, scientists and medical professionals in real time.

"We need to wait for the data to be released in the coming weeks to assess the next stages, but it is clear that there is only one way that we will be able to save the workforce and businesses within this sector, and that is by opening the doors."

16.44 - £80.8bn worth of sales wiped out in past 12 months

The coronavirus pandemic has cost the hospitality sector more than £80bn worth of sales from April 2020 to March 2021, new research has found.

The latest edition of the UKHospitality (UKH) Quarterly Tracker with CGA found sales during the period was £46bn – a drop of 64% (£126.8bn) compared to the previous 12 months.

This fall is equivalent to £220m sales each day or more than £9m an hour, reflecting the impact regional and national lockdowns have had on the sector.

It follows data from CGA and AlixPartners’ Market Recovery Monitor​, which found about 12,000 licensed venues closed in Britain, between January 2020 and March 2021.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.34 - NTIA launches legal action over restrictions in Scotland

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has announced its plans to proceed with legal action against the Scottish Government.

The organisation said it would proceed with a judicial review challenging the validity of all legal restrictions currently being imposed upon hospitality and night time economy businesses in Scotland under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Social distancing, restrictions on music and dancing and table service make it difficult for businesses to make enough to survive, the body said.

The sector acknowledged that restrictions were initially necessary and ensured they were followed but the NTIA said it felt the virus was not the same public health risk it was a few months ago.The NTIA pointed to the successful vaccine roll out in Scotland.Restrictions on "capacity, activities and operating hours" in hospitality are no longer justifiable or proportionate, the body said.It said any continued application of such emergency restrictions would now be in breach of Article 1 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which applies in the UK by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998. 

11.39 - Helpline for hospitality workers

Friday 30 April, 09.26 - Recruitment woes after drop in EU workers

The pub sector has seen the biggest decline in EU workers in the hospitality sector, dropping from 26% in Q1 2019 to 21% in Q1 2021. 

There has been a drop in EU workers after Brexit (image: Getty/ViewApart)
There has been a drop in EU workers after Brexit (image: Getty/ViewApart)

The figures come from Fourth, which has analysed data from more than 700 hospitality companies.

It found in Q1 2021, 34.9% of new starters were from the EU, compared to 48.6% in Q1 2019.

What’s more, the workforce headcount was down 28% compared to April 2020.

It comes after pub operators told The Morning Advertiser​ they had struggled with last minute resignations and staff wanting a change of lifestyle and different career.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director EMEA, at Fourth, said: “As restrictions ease further and indoor trading returns on Monday 17 May, the necessity to recruit will heighten, placing a greater spotlight on the availability of workers. We have been tracking the make-up of the workforce for a number of years, and its reliance on transient workers from European countries has been a prominent feature, particularly in high demand back-of-house roles, such as chefs.

He added: "Clearly, the pandemic, coupled with new immigration systems post-Brexit, have had a significant impact on the make-up and availability of workers from EU countries within our industry, which will become increasingly prominent as we return to full capacity."

15.35 - Statement on vaccine passports 'empty'

13.33 - Pubs consider price increases

A number of The Morning Advertiser's (MA)​ readers have increased their prices amid reopening this month (April), following months of closure.

Some 88 operators voted in the poll, with more than half (58%) saying they have increased their prices, less than a quarter (24%) haven’t pushed prices up but were planning to, and just 18% had no plans to implement a rise.

Earlier this month, pubco Star Pubs & Bars responded to reports it suggested lessees and tenants increase their prices​ on beer amid reopening for outdoor areas from 12 April. 

The MA​​ understands the pub company information that was sent to its licensees mentioned that operators should consider reviewing their prices.

The MA ​​also learnt the communication cited research from CGA, which suggested most customers were prepared to pay more for a pint of beer.

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

10.42 - Michael Gove to update MPs on vaccine passports

Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove will update MPs on the review into Covid-status certification checks later today, it has been reported.

He will make an update in a written statement to the House of Commons today (Thursday) but the review is still ongoing.

The Guardian​ has echoed reports in the Daily Mail​ from earlier in the week claiming that the Government will not introduce vaccine passports in pubs.

The newspaper quotes a Whitehall source as saying officials had chosen to focus on "higher-risk settings that are not open and big events” and move away from considering a passport system in smaller spaces like pubs.

There is expected to be another update next month.

Thursday 29 April, 09.14 -  Consumers booking days off to visit the pub

More than one in ten customers have booked at least one day off just to visit a hospitality venue, a survey of the general public has revealed.

Return to pubs: a UK survey has shown the demand from consumers to get back into beer gardens (image: Getty/Merlas)
Return to pubs: a UK survey has shown the demand from consumers to get back into beer gardens (image: Getty/Merlas)

Streetbees surveyed 682 UK customers and found 47% have visited a pub bar or restaurant at least once since lockdown lifted on Monday 12 April.

Of the respondents surveyed, 15% said they have taken at least one day off work specifically to visit a pub, bar or restaurant. Some 5% booked more than one day.

A small number of consumers surveyed (6%) said they had been unable to attend a booking as planned.

Just 2% of the respondents said they had not informed a venue they would not be attending after making a booking while two thirds of respondents said they had informed the venue.

Some, 3% in the 36-45 age bracket did not inform the venue that they couldn’t attend their booking, in addition to 3% in the 46+ age bracket.

What’s more, out of the number of customers not appearing to bookings, 2% were in the 18-25 age bracket and 1% in the 26-35 group. 

15.20 - Beer demand has ‘surpassed expectations’ but big brewers coping

Clamour for pints amid the on-trade reopening for outdoor trading has exceeded predictions, but a number of the big brewers have stated they are keeping up.

The Daily Mail​ ​reported Heineken was limiting UK pub orders with licensees only receiving three kegs a week of Birra Moretti due to supply issues.

A spokesperson for Heineken UK estimated more than 10m adults in England have headed back to the great British pub, with many drinkers opting for a draught pint.

“Demand for Birra Moretti and Amstel has totally surpassed our most optimistic forecasts and our breweries are working round the clock to deal with this high level of demand," they added.

“We are working closely with our customers to keep them regularly updated on the situation and to offer alternative beers from the extensive Heineken UK range of brands, as we increase production.”

Reporting by Nikkie Thatcher

13.51 - No one knows how to use the NHS app'

Pub goers have been hesitant to use the NHS contact-tracing app and been reluctant to hand over their details, operators have reported.

Customers and all other visitors must leave their contact details when visiting a pub premises since beer gardens reopened on Monday 12 April in England.

Pub operators should ensure every member of a group has either left their details through using the NHS coronavirus app or by pen and paper, for potential contact-tracing by NHS Test and Trace.

While individuals can use the app to quickly scan QR code posters at venues, licensees have said many customers are confused or frustrated by the requirement.

One licensee to share the challenges of the requirement was Heath Ball, who operates the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub the Red Lion & Sun in Highgate, north London.

After reopening his doors for outdoor trade earlier this month​, he told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​: “The amount of people that don't know they have to give their details so it's difficult checking them in.

“No one knows how to use the app, they try and take a photo of it like a normal QR code where it leads you to the website."

10.24 - How have customers reacted to being asked for contact details?

Vote in The MA's​ twitter poll below.

10.09 - Vaccine study offers hope for 'return to normal'

Just one dose of a coronavirus vaccine can reduce household transmission by up to half, a study has shown.

Public Health England looked at those given a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca jab who went on to contract the virus three weeks later.

These individuals were between 38% and 49% less likely to transmit the virus compared to unvaccinated people. 

What’s more, the risk of a vaccinated individual developing a symptomatic case of the virus is reduced by 60% to 65% at four weeks after a first jab.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: "Vaccines are vital in helping us return to a normal way of life. Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others."

Wednesday 28 April, 09.42 - Decision on reopening legal challenge soon

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord is anticipating a decision from a High Court judge this week, after delays.

Alongside Punch founder Hugh Osmond, Lord challenged the Government on its strategy to reopen society, which designated indoor hospitality a later relaunch date than outdoor trade and non-essential retail.

He tweeted: "We were informed a ruling would be made the week commencing the 19th.

"We have now been informed, a High Court Judge was not available last week and it is now, at last, sat with him.

He said he was now expecting an update "imminently."

14.38 - No-shows are a 'disgrace'

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord has spoken out against people not showing up for bookings at pubs and bars.

  • Have you had a problem with people not turning up after booking a table at your pub? Please get in touch on rzvyl.unjxvaf@jeoz.pbz​ 

13.03 - 25% of adults vaccinated

11.46 - Let us know your experiences

11.44 - Sensible' for Prime Minister to drop vaccine passports for pubs

The pub trade has welcomed reports Covid-status certification will not be introduced in pubs.

New restrictions pubs

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has moved away from supporting the use of Covid certification checks in hospitality, it was reported in the Daily Mail.

Instead, the vaccine passports could be used just to unlock large participation sectors including theatres, nightclubs and big sporting events.

The Government told The Morning Advertiser​ no decisions had been taken.

However, it is understood Covid checks have been ruled out in essential retail and transport for accessibility reasons. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We are considering a range of evidence around Covid-status certification and whether it may have a role in opening up higher risk settings safely. The review is ongoing and no decisions have been taken."

Tuesday 27 April, 09.23 - 'Stamp out abuses across hospitality sector'

A union has called on ministers to improve legal protections for chefs so they do not face pressure to work more than 48 hours a week.

Lockdown live: chefs are pressured into long working weeks, a union has claimed(image: Getty/Photo_Concepts)
Lockdown live: chefs are pressured into long working weeks, a union has claimed(image: Getty/Photo_Concepts)

Unite said the hospitality sector was “frequently failing in its duty of care” to chefs.

It was standard practice for bosses to include an opt-out from the Working Time Directive into employment contracts, the union said.

Unite said ministers need to change the law so that chefs are automatically protected by the Working Time Directive – still in place even though the UK has left the EU – which limits the working week to 48 hours.

Unite national officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “The employers then underpin this deception, with chefs in particular, by placing them on salaried pay rather than hourly rates. This results in excessive hours and, in many cases, underpayment of the minimum wage."

The union is calling on chefs to opt back into the 48-hour maximum working week and for the opt-out option to be outlawed.

Turnbull added: “There is a clear case for the legislation to be strengthened to stamp out these abuses across the hospitality sector, which is already suffering from a ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis as restaurants, pubs and bars emerge from the Covid lockdown restrictions.”

The union will be holding a minute's silence on Workers’ Memorial Day on Wednesday 28 April to remember the hospitality staff who have died from coronavirus. 

15.39 - Slash curfew in Scotland, trade body urges

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has called on the Scottish Government to abolish limitations on opening hours.

It said under the current levels framework to ease the country out of lockdown,  many pubs will not be viable until level zero. 

SBPA president Edith Monfries said:  “For many premises the ongoing restrictions mean they still cannot open and even for those who are opening their doors again today, the restrictions make a return to profitability difficult, and many will operate at a deficit until further progress through the levels.”

Businesses had made huge investments into health and safety measures, the president added.

Providing no “major hospitality related incidents,” the Government should consider allowing a return to licensing hours, Monfries said.

She explained: “Unfortunately, the maintenance of the curfew severely limits profitable hours and for many of Scotland licensed premises, it could be the difference between survival and bankruptcy.”

13.57 -  Calls for indoor payment rules to be relaxed

11.51 - Scottish and Welsh hospitality reopen

Pubs in Wales and Scotland are allowed to reopen for outdoor service today (Monday 26 April) after months of shutdown.

In Wales, hospitality businesses are only permitted to reopen for outdoor trade, similar to their English counterparts' resumption of trade on Monday 12 April.

In Scotland, pubs can sell alcohol outdoors subject to local licensing laws to a maximum group of six people from six households.

While pubs can also open indoors, they are banned from selling alcohol.  

10.30 - Indoor trade challenge decision will come 'early' this week

Night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord said he is now expecting an update this week on his legal challenge over hospitality's reopening date.

He said he thought a decision from a Judge would come last week.

Alongside Punch founder Hugh Osmond, Lord had challenged the Government on its decision to permit non-essential retail to reopen ahead of indoor hospitality.

The duo argue indoor hospitality is safe and has been unfairly targeted by the Government. They have pressed the Health Secretary to issue fresh evidence to justify the Government's lockdown easing roadmap.

Monday 26 April, 09.23 - 'Prime Minister ditches Covid checks for pubs'

Welcome to The Morning Advertiser's​ live feed. 

As pubs reopen in Wales and Scotland today, it has been reported that the Prime Minister has veered away from the idea of implementing a vaccine passport system for the hospitality sector. 

Lockdown live: pubs will reopen in Wales and Scotland today after months of enforced closure.
Lockdown live: pubs will reopen in Wales and Scotland today after months of enforced closure.

Previously, the Government was understood to be considering proposing a Covid certification system that would require pubs to ask customers for proof of vaccination, a negative test result or virus antibodies from a recent infection. 

Pubs operating such systems would then be allowed to forgo social distancing and other safety measures later this year. The Government's lockdown roadmap sets out an intention to abolish all legal restrictions on social contact from 21 June at the earliest. 

However, The​ Daily Mail​ has now reported that the Government is now focusing solely on unlocking large events, including nightclubs and theatres.

The newspaper quoted a Government source as saying: "I would be amazed if we introduce Covid certification for hospitality this summer. The focus is more on big events and reopening sectors that we struggled to open last year."

In a survey carried out by The MA​, eight in ten licensees said they did not support proposals for vaccine passports.

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