Pubs could reopen if landlords restricted beer to two or three pints per customer then asked them to go home to help with social distancing measures, it has been claimed.
Lockdown adviser Professor Eyal Winter, of Lancaster University, said people were ‘starving’ for pubs which he described as ‘an important part of British culture’.
Mr Winter, an economist advising politicians on how to ease the coronavirus restrictions, said social distancing would have to be enforced if pubs reopen.
One possible result of his proposals would be to stagger the number of people going into pubs over the course of a day to avoid them getting ‘very full’ at one.
However, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Stringent social distancing, if required, will have an enormous impact on footfall in pubs and consumer confidence will take time to rebuild.
“Trade could be down by well over half upon reopening so pubs will need substantial support from Government if they are to survive this crisis for the long term.
“Restricting and monitoring consumption on top of any Covid restrictions that may need to be enforced is a step too far.”
Matt Todd, landlord of The Wonston Arms in rural Hampshire, said: “As a landlord I will be pulling pints, so how can I make sure people are social distancing in the pub garden? I don’t think it’s practical.”
Katie Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality said reopening without a plan of action would be “catastrophic” for the sector, especially if social distancing was to become the norm for the foreseeable future.
She said: “An extended period of social distancing will mean that many hospitality businesses will not be able to operate fully and many will not be able to open at all.”