Prime minister Boris Johnson has clarified that pubs will be able to re-open from 4th July, and has said the need for two-metre social distancing will end.

In the House of Commons, Conservative MP Gareth Johnson asked the prime minister to to encourage people to “do their patriotic best for Britain” and go to the pub.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has warned that pubs re-opening is only the first step on the road to recovery for the beer industry, with further support for small brewers needed to keep beer flowing.

Chief executive, James Calder, said: “The prime minister’s announcement today is what the nation has been waiting for. But hundreds of brewers and thousands of pubs are still on the precipice. Many will struggle with table service only when ordering from a bar can be done safely.

“Beer sales will not return to normal levels anytime soon, so the UK’s brewers need a continued support package and a clear roadmap for how they will be financially supported. Government has failed to meet its own timetable, and failed to support brewers in the same way the rest of hospitality has been. Whilst today’s news is a positive step, we have a lot more work to do yet.”

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said that reducing social distancing for pubs from two metres to one would enable 75% of pubs in England — 28,000 in total — to re-open.

Although reopening on 4th July will not give the sector the three weeks’ notice it said it needed, the BBPA says some pubs and breweries had already begun preparations, developing plans to ensure the safety of pub customers and staff, and brewing fresh draught beer for pubs, which will allow a good number of pubs to be ready.

Chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “We now await the publication of government guidance for our sector. As an industry, we will be doing everything we can to ensure both our customers and staff are safe in our pubs.

“We do have significant concerns over the collection and storage of personal customer data when visiting the pub. We welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to work with the sector to make this manageable, as it poses significant logistical challenges. We will work with government on how we could help collect data for track and trace purposes.”

‘Not being able to go to our local has made us realise just how important our pubs are to communities’

Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “CAMRA is urging all pub-goers to follow the rules so that they can keep themselves, other pub-goers, and bar staff safe. 

“On recording customer details to help testing and tracing, this seems to be above and beyond what is being asked of other types of businesses. The government need to make sure that this doesn’t disadvantage pubs and that the privacy of pub-goers is properly protected. 

“Not being able to go to our local has made us realise just how important pubs are to communities, and in tackling loneliness and social isolation. That is why we need a second wave of financial support to ensure that all pubs — both those operating at reduced trade and those that cannot open safely under social distancing — can survive the next few weeks and thrive in the weeks and months ahead.”

St Austell Brewery chief executive, Kevin Georgel, said in a statement: “The announcement from the government today provides much needed clarity and comes as a huge relief. We also welcome the prime minister’s announcement on reducing two-metre social distancing guidelines to ‘one metre plus’, which will allow us to reopen our pubs more viably on 4th July.

“Now that we have a firm date, we can fully focus on getting our pubs ready to re-open safely as we look forward to welcoming our teams and our customers back. As we approach 4th July, we’ll continue to prepare our managed pubs — in line with the government’s hospitality guidelines — brief our teams, and provide ongoing support for our tenants. We’re already busy brewing a fresh supply of draught beer which we’ll be delivering to our customers, across the West Country and beyond, in the days ahead.

“Things may be a little different for a while, but our priorities remain the same — looking out for our teams and guests, while delivering a great experience. Rest assured, we will be introducing a number of extra measures in our pubs to ensure that our customers can socialise safely.

“Even in these unusual times, we can promise our usual warm welcome — delicious food, quality draught beers, comfortable rooms and some of the best views in the West Country. We know, for so many, pubs play a key role in bringing communities together. We’re looking forward to doing just that and welcoming people back responsibly next weekend.”

Photograph: Unsplash/Amie Johnson

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