Beer we go! Britons race to book tables at their local as pubs are given the go-ahead to reopen on July 4

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Pubs in England will be allowed to reopen from July 4 but for table service only – while nightclubs will remain shut, Boris Johnson announced today.

Owners have warned customers to only turn up if they have pre-booked a table as bosses prepare to reopen after being shut for more than three months.

Pub-goers will be asked to register before having a drink at their local under plans to limit the spread of Covid-19 as England’s hospitality industry reopens.

The Prime Minister told the Commons that customers will be allowed back into pubs as they reopen for the first time since closing on March 20 just before lockdown.

Some pubs already have all their tables reserved on the opening day – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ – with staff taken off furlough to help cope with bookings.

And politicians are expected to go on a PR blitz around the country to encourage people to return to pubs which will reopen with social distancing measures in place.

It comes amid suggestions over how the pubs of the future may look, including:

  • Screens at the tills and to create seating areas to maintain social distancing;
  • Pre-booking all tables and being banned from standing at the bar to drink; 
  • One entrance with a separate exit door where possible to keep people apart;
  • Menus on tables will have to be thrown out after being used once;
  • Staff will hand over drinks holding the base of the glass to reduce contact; 
  • Employees will have to wash their hands between serving different tables.

Boris Johnson has backed calls for people to ‘do their patriotic best for Britain’ and head to the pubs, joking that he may be touring the pubs country-wide himself.

The Prime Minister urged the Cabinet today to be at the forefront of a campaign to persuade Britons that it is safe to return to pubs, reported the Financial Times.

New laws due to be introduced to Parliament this Thursday will allow pubs to turn their ‘spaces inside out’ this summer, reported the Daily Telegraph.

One source said: ‘At the moment, you (pubs) have to specify in the plan for your licence where you are selling and serving alcohol. Beer gardens tend to be licensed already but car parks aren’t.

‘You could have little courtyards that would be normally used for storage, car parks or land that you don’t normally license. A lot of hotels will have huge gardens but won’t have an outdoor licence.’

Mr Johnson told the Commons today that restaurants and pubs will be allowed to reopen from July 4.

He said: ‘I can tell the House that we will also reopen restaurants and pubs. All hospitality indoors will be limited to table service and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.

‘We will ask businesses to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks by collecting contact details from customers as happens in other countries and we will work with the sector to make this manageable.’

Mr Johnson said guidance for business will be published later today.

He also said the two-metre rule will be reduced to ‘one metre-plus’ from July 4.

He told the Commons: ‘Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus we can change the two-metre social distancing rule from July 4.’

He added: ‘Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should.

‘But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre-plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘I know this rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy even without other restrictions, for example it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating.’

Before the announcement, Peter Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘We will be taking bookings only in the early stages.

‘So we will have names through our normal booking system. However it would seem to me a sort of strange replacement for a trace and contact scenario, but if the Government would like us to do it, then we’ll happily do it.’

‘I think it will evolve, but on day one we want to be very, very certain about what we’re doing. We want to make sure that everyone there feels reassured, that the staff feel happy with what’s going on and feel able to keep it all under control.

‘We would perhaps develop as time goes by and allow people to turn unannounced, but then that they must realise that they may not get a table because you can’t just have people stood in the bars, it will be table service only in those early weeks.

‘We are very, very foreready for the first day, so we do need to warn people that if they’ve not got a table then they shouldn’t come.’

Mr Borg-Neal revealed last Friday that many of his sites are fully booked on July 4 and they are having to take more staff off furlough to handle the bookings.

A spokesman for the Peach Pubs chain added that it was ‘fully booked’ already for the first weekend at six of its largest pubs which are due to open on July 4.

Ministers are expected to ask bars and restaurants to keep a record of everyone who visits, including their mobile phone numbers.

The idea has been used in New Zealand where venues hold a register of everyone they serve each day. If someone falls ill with coronavirus, the list is then used to help with contact-tracing.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume more normal trading from July 4 as the hospitality sector reopens.

Many pubs and bars are already taking advantage of lockdown rules that allow them to sell takeaway food and drinks, and drinkers have been out in force in some areas.

Ministers are expected to publish guidelines later today on what measures venues can take to operate safely.

Source: Daily Mail

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