Pub bosses prepare for 'historic day' on Saturday as police lay on extra officers

2 July 2020, 05:41

Pubs will open for the first time since March
Pubs will open for the first time since March. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Pub and bar bosses have said they expect Saturday to be a "historic day" as they open their doors for the first time since the country went into lockdown more than 100 days ago.

Thousands of pubs are set to welcome back customers across England hoping to provide a "much-needed boost" after the "most challenging time ever" for the sector.

But some pubs will not be reopening on July 4 over fears they will be unable to enforce Covid-19 social distancing rules.

New rules will see screens separating tables, bar staff delivering drink orders to customers and orders being made via apps.

The Prime Minister has announced the current two-metre social distancing requirement will be cut to one-metre from Saturday, meaning businesses will be able to let more customers in.

But leading doctors, police and campaigners urged drinkers to act drink responsibly to avoid ending up injured and in under pressure hospitals.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the public will see “a lot” of officers on London streets.

On Wednesday, she said: “There will be a lot more ready should people be out of order, should people get violent.

“But I'm not predicting that at this stage.

“My message is, if you're coming out on Saturday, be calm, be sensible.

“Look after yourself, look after your family. We are still in a global pandemic which is affecting this country very obviously.”

Clive Watson, the founder of the London-based City Pub Group, said: "I'm so excited to see customers back in the pubs. We are all expecting it to be a historic day for the industry.

"It's been incredibly tough, for us, and for our customers too, so we hope this can provide a much-needed boost."

However, he said that around 10 of the pub group's city centre pubs face a slightly longer wait before reopening to customers as their locations and dimensions provide "a challenge".

Mr Watson also stressed that it is vital that pubs and other businesses reopening at the weekend meet safety requirements to help ensure they do not face further lockdown restrictions again in the future.

"But we are aware of our responsibility," he said. "What's happening in Leicester highlights how important it is that operators, of all businesses, don't let their eye of the ball.

"We have to prioritise safety to ensure that we don't see lockdowns again, because the effects would be disastrous."

Revolution Bars said it will take a more phased approach to reopening, opening just six of its venues of Monday July 6 ahead of swinging open the doors to the rest of its bar estate.

Chief executive Rob Pitcher said: "The safety of our guests and teams is our top priority and we have been working hard behind the scenes over the last few months to find ways to be able to get the party started again in the safest way possible.

"By taking a phased approach to opening our venues, the improvements we've made to the bookings platform on our brands' websites, and with our team members trained to the highest standard of safe operating procedures, we can ensure our guests and teams are as safe as possible."

John Crooks, owner of The Boar's Head in Draycott-in-the-Clay and The Lion Hotel in Belper, said: "This is the most challenging time our business has faced but we know we're not alone.

"Pubs, restaurants and hotels across the region are feeling the same effects that we are and planning for the future is particularly difficult given the uncertainty surrounding when we'll be able to open our doors again."

Mr Crooks said the business is optimistic after it secured a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan from Lloyds Bank to keep it afloat while its doors were shut.