Pubs must remain closed for at least two months as Boris Johnson offers a glimpse of hope that Britain’s hospitality industry could begin to reopen from July.
The PM said he would reopen ‘at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’.
In his televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson set out a tentative three-step ‘exit plan’ from lockdown ‘subject to further scientific advice’.
He said: ‘Step Three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’.
But tonight’s announcement has been criticised by industry leaders who have previously warned 40 per cent of pubs will not survive beyond September without further financial support as the UK economy continues to tank
The British Beer & Pub Association warned the sector remains in ‘limbo’ and faces ‘severe uncertainty and financial devastation’.
Boris Johnson has offered a glimmer of hope for pubs by announcing today that Britain’s hospitality industry could begin to reopen from July
The PM will reopen ‘at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing’ (pictured, The Grand Central in Brighton)
Chief Executive Emma McClarkin said ‘if government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release… this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown’.
Ms McClarkin added: ‘The industry was looking for a glimmer of hope today, a date to plan to and further financial support reassured.
‘But it looks like we have more weeks of uncertainty ahead of us.
‘With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation.
‘If government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown.
‘Despite this, the government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face. We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating.’
Hospitality, retail, food and manufacturing have all been hit hardest by an unprecedented period of economic inactivity.
Pubs have warned that they will be unable to reopen their doors ever again because they do not have the resources to wait for months (pictured, a closed pub in Belfast)
Many will have to remain closed long past July, causing fears that the hospitality industry could fall off a cliff face in months or even weeks (pictured, a closed London pub)
Hospitality, retail, food and manufacturing have all been hit hardest by an unprecedented period of economic inactivity (pictured, a closed pub in Belfast)
Tonight’s announcement is meant to assuage growing concerns that the Johnson government’s lockdown is damaging the UK economy
The PM has dropped the ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan in favour of a ‘stay alert’ version – which notably has green edging instead of red
Pubs have warned that they will be unable to reopen their doors ever again because they do not have the resources to wait for months.
A few restaurants and cafes will be able to start serving people indoors in July, although some have adopted takeout only services.
Many will have to remain closed long past July, causing fears that the hospitality industry could fall off a cliff face in months or even weeks.
A Bank of England report last week forecast that gross domestic product (GDP) could fall by nearly 30 per cent this year.
Though Bank staff currently believe the economy would grow by around 15 per cent in 2021, the contraction would be the most severe on record.
Britain faces the most severe recession since the 1709 ‘great frost’, the Bank said.
Mr Johnson warned tonight ‘this is not the time simply to end the lockdown’, and that his government was taking ‘the first careful steps to modify our measures’.
The PM said that anyone who can work from home should do so unless it is impossible. He also said primary schoolchildren should go back to class in June.
Mr Johnson stressed: ‘Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity.
‘We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health. And I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big Ifs.
‘It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down.’
Boris Johnson is scrambling to defend the decision to ditch the blanket ‘stay at home’ slogan
How the government’s DefCon style five stage alert system for the UK’s outbreak could work
Key points of Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit strategy
From Monday, people who cannot work from home are being actively encouraged to go to work instead of being told to only go if they must.
But they should avoid public transport if at all possible.
From Wednesday, people can take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but only with members of their household.
Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed.
But tough social distancing rules will still have to be obeyed with bigger fines for ‘the small minority’ who flout them.
Primary schools may reopen by June 1 along with the phased reopening of shops. But secondary schools will not reopen before the summer holidays.
Some pubs, restaurants, hotels and other public places could begin to reopen in July at the earliest ‘if and only if the numbers support it’.
A new Covid Alert System is being set up determined mainly by the reinfection rate and the number of cases.
The alert levels will be one to five and the higher the level, the tougher social distancing measures will have to be.
The PM said the UK had been in Level Four but ‘we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three’.
Level one would mean coronavirus is no longer around while Level Five would be the NHS being overwhelmed by a fresh outbreak.