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‘Save summer six’ ministers press for 22 June on-trade reopening

Published:  08 June, 2020

Boris Johnson is understood to be close to agreement with a group of senior ministers to look at reopening the hospitality sector on 22 June.

Dubbing themselves the ‘save summer six’ and led by chancellor Rishi Sunak, the ministers have warned the Prime minister that hospitality would be devastated unless the reopening date is brought forward from 4 July, to allow the sector to profit from the lucrative summer season.

According to reports in newspapers including the Weekend FT and Sunday Times, business secretary Alok Sharma told the Prime Minister last Tuesday that up to 3.5 million jobs would be lost without urgent action – to which Johnson is reported to have exclaimed, “Christ!”.

A senior Whitehall official told the Sunday Times that the new target date was 22 June, with ongoing discussions from last Friday also considering a reduction in the 2 metre social distancing rule to allow pubs, bars and restaurants to operate profitably.

Sharma spoke to his Danish and Dutch counterparts on Sunday on how they shifted to the WHO-recommended 1 metre social distancing as those countries reopened on-trade venues.

Robert Jenrick, housing and local government secretary, is also understood to be looking at a relaxation of planning controls to allow fuller use of outside space by pubs, bars and restaurants.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove, transport secretary Grant Shapps, and culture secretary Oliver Dowden are part of the “save summer six”, which is also looking at further measure such as allowing outdoor weddings across all faiths.

It is understood that Cabinet will further discuss the 22 June reopening date and how best to implement this with safe measures on Tuesday, with an announcement expected later this week.