The Prime Minister is expected later today to announce the reopening of the hospitality sector in England from July 4, in what some MPs are calling ‘Super Saturday’.
The long-awaited announcement is seen as a dramatic effort to get the country up and running again.
The Prime Minister’s announcement is also expected to include a reduction of the two-metre distancing rule in England; however, “punters” may have to give pubs their contact details in order to buy a pint.
The hospitality industry has mounted increasing pressure on the government for a reopening date and to reduce the distancing limit, stating that it would not be economically viable for many businesses to resume trading under the current guidelines.
Last week a group of pub operators wrote to the government demanding a specific opening date, and pub operator Oakman Inns went a step further and announced that they will be opening for business on July 4, a direct challenge to the government.
The British Beer and Pub Association estimates that 30% of pubs in the UK would be able to reopen with two metres social distancing, compared to 75% with one metre.
In a TV interview at the weekend health secretary Matt Hancock, said: “We’re on plan, we will of course be setting out more details of that plan and in the plan it states that on around July 4 we will take further measures if it’s safe to do so.”
Hancock said he “wouldn’t rule out” people having to register before going to the pub, stating that there are other countries, for example New Zealand, that have taken that approach.
“That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at for how do you make it safe to open things,” he added.
“And things like wearing a face mask which reduces the transmission clearly, about how the seating is arranged, because face-to-face is much more dangerous than back-to-back and there’s more transmission than side-to-side.
“And also the sorts of things you can put in place to strengthen test and trace because the whole approach is to move as much as safely possible from a national lockdown towards targeted local action when we see an outbreak.”
Other countries are operating with a 1 m social distancing rule rule including France and Denmark, while in Germany and the Netherlands, it’s 1.5 metres.