In two weeks’ time, Londoners might find themselves reunited with their best-loved beer gardens and alfresco dining could extend beyond a meal-deal picnic in the park. That’s because the government is in talks about reopening outdoor drinking and dining spaces in England earlier than the rest of the hospitality sector and as soon as Monday June 22.
Under current plans, all restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels have been told that the earliest they could reopen would be July 4. But according to the Financial Times, the Save Summer project is being hatched by half a dozen ministers to accelerate the reopening of the hospitality sector and kickstart the economy. Three senior Whitehall officials told the newspaper that June 22 was the date they were aiming for.
The ‘Save Summer Six’, as they’re calling themselves, are due to discuss plans tomorrow (Tuesday June 9), if officials are to be believed (there’s no talk on when they’ll be releasing their first EP, mind). Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be among the group spearheading the move.
Social distancing would still be an essential part of reopening. The government is currently scrutinising the two-metre rule within plans for pubs and restaurants, with many industry bodies urging them to relax measures to a one-metre distance in order to assure the return of more venues this summer.
The CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) Emma McClarkin told Time Out that only around 30 percent of pubs in the UK would be able to reopen under the two-metre rule. She also warned of the financial dangers for venues trying to operate under the ruling: ‘We already know if you open up a pub at the moment with two-metre restrictions, the average for pubs is they’d reduce their capacity by 70 percent. So if you’re reducing already by 70 percent, it’s very hard to make a business viable on 30 percent of trade.’
If the Save Summer Six successfully manage to do as they plan and, er, save summer, relaxed rules and a relaxed round in the local beer garden might be on the agenda for London very soon.
Some bad news, though: Young’s pubs say they won’t open until August.