Pubs and restaurants in England ‘may not open until May’

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs and restaurants in England ‘may not open until May’

Related tags Pub Restaurant Coronavirus lockdown

Hospitality venues in England may be forced to remain closed for five months, with the early May bank holiday being touted as a 'realistic' reopening date.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged the country back into lockdown last week, with the nation once again ordered to stay at home.

Under the restrictions, hospitality businesses are able to continue offering takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-thru and delivery services. However, venues are banned from selling takeaway alcoholic drinks.

When originally announcing the lockdown Johnson said that the restrictions could be eased by the middle of February 'if things go well'.

Now, though, Downing Street is reportedly considering keeping the lockdown in place until late March, according to The Sunday Times​, with pubs and restaurants forced to remain closed through to the beginning of May.

A source told the paper: "The May Day bank holiday [1-3 May] is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening."

Addressing MPs last week, Johnson said that the country's eventual emergence from restrictions would a 'gradual unwrapping' dependent on the progress of the Coronavirus vaccination roll-out.

Responding to the rumoured May Day opening date on Twitter, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “If pubs, bars and restaurants are not able to open until May then they will have actually been closed for seven months.

“With one in five running out of cash by March, even with government support that is simply unsustainable.”

With the pipeline for hospitality reopening currently hinging on the successful roll-out of the vaccine, many businesses have come forward to offer their venues as vaccination hubs to help accelerate the process.

BrewDog and Loungers have both offered the Government use of their currently closed restaurants and bars​​, with the former currently in talks with the British and Scottish governments about using its bars as vaccination centres.

Trade body UKHospitality has also committed to assisting the vaccine roll-out​​​ in pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues.

Meanwhile, Oakman Inns chief executive Dermot King has said the pub group will forego the Chancellor’s latest lockdown grant of up to £250,000​ if he allows National Health Trusts to use its venues as vaccination centres​​.

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