Indoor reopening confirmation ‘psychological rather than economical’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Government announcement: pubs can return to indoor service from Monday 17 May, with restrictions such as table service in place (image: Getty/Drazen Zigic)
Government announcement: pubs can return to indoor service from Monday 17 May, with restrictions such as table service in place (image: Getty/Drazen Zigic)

Related tags: Legislation, ukhospitality, British institute of innkeeping, Greene king, Revolution

The announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Monday 10 May), confirming pubs can reopen inside from next week has been welcomed alongside calls for restrictions to be lifted in June.

At a Downing Street press conference, Johnson stated the tests to unlock more of the Government’s roadmap had been met.

Under the third step of the roadmap, pubs can restore inside service from Monday 17 May, with restrictions such as table service, in place.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls lauded the confirmation but highlighted the trade’s profitability still being a problem.

“This is a much welcome and vitally important next step, as we continue along the roadmap to remove restrictions," she said. 

“There is a huge sense of relief within the sector, in particular for the six in 10 venues that were not able to reopen over recent weeks due to a lack of outdoor space.

“This also gives businesses far more certainty with trading no longer beholden to the weather.

“However, with significant restrictions still in place, this is a psychological opening rather than an economic one, with the profitability of the sector still a huge issue.”

Trade in fragile state

Nicholls called upon the Government to ensure the roadmap is stuck to, with all restrictions being lifted next month (Monday 21 June) to enable businesses to finally operate in viable conditions, following more than a year of severely disrupted trading.

“Hospitality, as it emerges from restrictions, is still in a fragile state and continued Government support will be critical to ensuring the sector is rejuvenated and plays a full role in the wider economic recovery," she added.

Echoing Nicholls’ comments on profitability, British Institute of Innkeeping CEO Steven Alton outlined the importance of step four in the roadmap.

He said: “While we welcome this next stage for many of our members, we fully recognise the remaining restrictions that limit capacity in venues, will severely impact on profitable trading.

“Our members’ pubs will not start their recovery until all restrictions are removed, no later than Monday 21 June 2021. It is critical the Government confirms this at the earliest opportunity, to allow our members time to plan for a full reopening, financially and operationally.

“We would urge the devolved nations to urgently confirm the conditions for full reopening of our members’ pubs across the UK.”

Operator of 66 sites, Revolution Bars has reopened just over a third (25) of its venues for outside trading and the company is anticipating to fully reopen its estate in the months to come, as restrictions fall away.

Full benefits still to come

CEO Rob Pitcher said: “As predicted we have seen huge pent up demand and a rapid recovery across the nation in the bars with outside space that we have been able to open to date.

“The ability to trade inside from Monday 17 May provides another landmark in the roadmap and while we will still be restricted to using less than 50% of our actual capacity, the demand that we have experienced in recent weeks provides us with the confidence to open all the remaining bars.

“We are delighted to welcome our guests back indoors from the 17 May and look forward to the full benefits still to come when all restrictions are lifted in mid-June.”

Just ahead of the announcement, Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenze had his say on pubs being permitted to return to indoor service this month.

He said: “It’s great 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 Monday 21 June so we can return to the full pub experience that people have missed so much.”

Related topics: Legislation

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