Business secretary Alok Sharma said the possible June 22 date for reopening pubs and restaurants who can serve guests outside is probably not going to happen.
There had been suggestions this week that some businesses – those large enough to serve customers with social distancing firmly in place, and with gardens – might be able to start trading again towards the end of June. But the Government is still working towards July 4, according to Sharma.
The earlier date was allegedly put forward by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who among other leading politicians wanted to fast-track the re-opening of the hospitality trade, providing a welcome economic boost for Britain, and curtailing job losses.
But it would appear the roadmap remains fixed on July 4, which is still earlier than some predicted when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
A reduction in the two-metre distancing guideline had also been hoped for, but Sharma didn’t seem to confirm either way. It could be that proceedings kick-off with 2m, and it is brought down if cases do not rise too abruptly.
He added: “We take advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and, when it is safe to do so, we will see if we can move to a smaller distance. We keep all these things under review. “
Further guidance for pubs, restaurants and bars will be published “as soon as we can”, the business secretary added.