The UK government has confirmed bars across England will be allowed to reopen for indoor trading from 17 May.
In an update to the nation yesterday (Monday 10 May), UK prime minister Boris Johnson said indoor drinking and dining would be allowed to resume from next Monday, with social distancing measures in place.
Up to six people, or two households, will be allowed to meet indoors, while the outdoor rules will be extended to allow gatherings of up to 30 people.
In his statement, Johnson said: “With deaths and hospitalisations at their lowest levels since last July, and the UK’s four chief medical officers today agreeing a reduction in the alert level, the data now supports moving to step three in England from next Monday 17th May.”
Trade body UK Hospitality welcomed the news. Over the last 12 months, the UK hospitality sector has seen sales plummet by £80.8 billion (US$112bn) because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, said: “This is a much welcome and vitally important next step, as we continue along the roadmap to remove restrictions. There is a huge sense of relief within the sector, in particular for the six 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 14 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.”
Rent debt remains an issue for the bar industry. Earlier this month, UK Hospitality warned 330,000 jobs would be at risk if rent protections for the sector were removed.