Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that hotels, pubs and restaurants are free to open fully from next Monday.
The prime minister said that all of the government’s criteria had been met to enable the hospitality sector to welcome guests indoors again, however restrictions will remain, meaning that many venues will have to operate at reduced capacity with profit ‘still a huge issue’.
Although many sites have been serving customers outdoors since 12 April, the vast majority have had to wait until they could trade indoors.
Wedding capacity will also increase to 30 attendees, while there will no longer be a cap on how many people can attend a funerals. Groups of up to 30 will be able to meet outside and up to six people will be able to meet indoors.
Indoor entertainment and attractions will be permitted to open with COVID-secure measures in place including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas.
People will also be able to attend indoor and outdoor events including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type.
Thousands of operators now face the prospect of opening their premises for the first time since December.
In his Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said the efforts of the public have “visibly paid off” and the four tests for easing the lockdown have been met.
“This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road back to normality and I am confident that we will be able to go further,” he said.
Despite the news, social distancing rules in venues, table service, track and trace and compulsory masks measures will remain in place as the industry pushes for lifting of all restrictions in June.
Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor Sacha Lord tweeted: “Whilst I welcome the next step, please remember that the VAST majority of operators, will not be able to breakeven with measures in place. We MUST keep the pressure up for the next 6 weeks. NO RESTRICTIONS, NO EXCUSES. Let’s follow the data, the science, the evidence.”
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statement, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “There is a huge sense of relief within the sector, in particular for the 6 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. This is why sticking to the roadmap and the removal of all restrictions by 21st June is absolutely crucial, enabling venues to finally operate in viable conditions, after fourteen months 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.”
Boris Johnson later confirmed that England remained on track to move to step 4 of the reopening roadmap, which would see the removal of all social distancing restrictions from June 21.
UKHospitality’s Nicholls added that the PM also reiterated the intention to end 1m+ rule. She took to Twitter last night and said: “…Says no, (the PM) won’t bring date forward but will provide certainty as soon as possible and hopefully by end of May.”
The news coincided with reports that found there had been zero Covid deaths for England, Scotland and Wales on Monday, as the UK’s national alert level was reduced from four to three.