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On-trade groups take initiative on reopening

Published:  22 June, 2020

Many UK pub, restaurant and café operators have set a 4 July reopening in motion despite there still being no announcement from government confirming either the date or possible easing of the 2 metre rule.

Following Matt Hancock’s appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday (21 June), when the health secretary confirmed that the 2 metre rule could be lowered “with mitigations”, and that an announcement as to whether pubs, bars and restaurants could open on 4 July would be made “in the coming days”, many companies took to Twitter, expressing their aim to go ahead regardless.

In one thread sparked by the Daily Mail’s City Correspondent, Harriet Dennys, which claimed that the “owners of more than 400 pubs and bars across the UK have told customers they will open no matter what”, groups such as Peach Pubs, Albion and East, Oakman Inns and Urban Village Pubs were cited as pushing ahead with 4 July reopening.

Serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson, whose previous successes have included Pizza Express and The Ivy Group, Tweeted that “All my venues will open too”, including Gail’s Artisan Bakery, The Brighton Pier Group and The Genuine Dining Company, along with the Grand Union bar group, in which he has a significant stake.

With some passions running high, in the face of perceived government dithering over offering enough clarity and with enough time to allow operators to plan around new rules on the parameters of reopening, the point was made elsewhere that many businesses have little to risk by opening anyway as they may go bust soon anyway without any footfall.

Some, like Peach Pubs - among many that have seen customers pile into reservation systems to make bookings - qualified that while it is planning to open on 4 July, it would not do so if government back-tracked on the now widely expected confirmation of that date.

However, Hancock, chancellor Rishi Sunak and PM Boris Johnson have all been heavily hinting that further easing of lockdown will take place on 4 July, along with clarification for the hospitality sector on reopening, with a leaked report appearing in the Saturday Times revealing potential guidelines for businesses.

In light of the above, an announcement from government is widely expected tomorrow (Tuesday 23 June).