It’s been a tough year for the UK’s cherished pubs and bars. Having been shut down (along with everything else) in Lockdown 1.0 in March 2020, they were able to reopen with social distancing and track and trace in place last summer. Although the new tier system led to some bars and pubs being closed again in autumn, others were still open as late as the last week of December. Then every pub and bar in the land was definitively shut again – and have stayed that way throughout the latest national lockdown. So when are they going to open their doors and welcome back us poor, pint-starved home drinkers?
Well, Boris Johnson gave us some answers today. In his speech, which outlined the government’s lockdown exit strategy, he confirmed that schools will be the first to reopen, on March 8. Brits will also be able to socialise one-on-one with friends and family outdoors from that date, before this is extended to a ‘group of six’ or two households on March 29.
Then, from April 12 (a date that is could be delayed if the R number fails to drop), bars, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open for outdoor drinking and dining. Arguably even more exciting than that: there will be no 10pm curfew in place. And no weird rules regarding ‘substantial meals’ and Scotch eggs.
You’ll also want to ring May 17 in your diary. This is the date that, should everything go according to plan, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will be allowed to start serving food and drink indoors again. The genuine pub experience, with groups of up to six people.
There is also no word on the types of social-distancing measures that might need to be in place indoors. When pubs briefly reopened in 2020 at partial capacity, many if not most were unable to turn a profit – especially the kind of low-ceilinged, age-old taverns we love.
This is welcome news for the UK’s bars and pubs, but the struggle to stay afloat continues – with financial losses stacking up all the while. Until you can support your favourite boozer in person, there are some other ways you can support the hospitality sector. You could buy this cookbook, contribute to various crowdfunders, or look for venues that need help on this website right here. Can’t find one? Try this website instead. Because whatever you do, you don’t want to let your favourite boozer fall victim to this extended shitshow.