The UK’s restaurants have been cruelly affected by lockdown over the last year, with even many of London’s most famous eateries saying that they will not be able to reopen. Even when restrictions were eased in summer 2020, many restaurants were unable to turn a profit from reduced covers, so stayed closed. For those that have managed to survive – some by turning to takeaways or meal kits – the prospects are still far from rosy.
So when will we all be able to eat out again, and when will restaurants be able to get back to doing what they do best?
Well, today’s announcement by prime minister Boris Johnson has given us some clues. It seems that the UK’s restaurants will be able to reopen under ‘Step 2’ from April 12 at the earliest – but only for outdoor meals. Pubs and bars will be able to open outdoors too, and thankfully, there’ll be no 10pm curfew.
Under ‘Step 3’, from May 17 at the earliest, restaurants will be allowed to open indoors again, subject to social-distancing rules. So will pubs, bars, hotels, hostels, B&Bs and other hospitality venues.
Both these dates are subject to change if things don’t go as planned. And here’s another note of caution: hospitality venues are among the most precariously placed to weather the ups and downs of lockdown’s vicissitudes. When restaurants had to close again suddenly in December 2020, many were left with thousands of pounds of stock on their hands and no one to cook and feed it for.
Hopefully this will be the beginning of the long but very much one-way road back for the UK’s fantastic restaurants. We sincerely, truly, hope so.