Pubs, bars, and restaurants in England could reopen on 22 June, according to reports.
Amid fears of mass job losses if the hospitality sector misses out on the lucrative summer season, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be near to agreement with a group of senior ministers to look at reopening the hospitality sector two weeks earlier than planned.
Under the current government schedule, bars, hotels and restaurants are due to stay shut until July at the earliest, although they can serve customers outside their premises.
However, a group of ministers led by chancellor Rishi Sunak are said to be considering at ways to help the hospitality and on-trade sector reopen using beer gardens, terraces and marquees.
Dubbing themselves the ‘save summer six’ the ministers have warned the Prime minister that hospitality would be devastated unless the reopening date is brought forward from 4 July, to allow the sector to profit from the lucrative summer season.
This new move may face opposition with Government’s scientific advisor warning that the R rate at which the coronavirus is transmitted is very close to the danger level of one in some areas of the UK, and now above that level in the South West and North East of England.
However, the Prime Minister is considering calls from the hospitality sector to reduce social distancing measures from two metres to one if enough scientific evidence can support claims that it will only make a small difference to transmission levels. The Netherlands and Denmark have already instigated one metre rule, as is the minimum recommended distance by the World Health Organisation.
Robert Jenrick, housing and local government secretary, is also understood to be looking at a relaxation of planning controls to allow fuller use of outside space by pubs, bars and restaurants.
Cabinet office minister Michael Gove, transport secretary Grant Shapps, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden are also part of the “save summer six”, which is also looking at further measure such as allowing outdoor weddings across all faiths.