'Very small percentage' of pubs can reopen in PM's lockdown roadmap

22 February 2021, 19:38

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Only a "very small" percentage of pubs in England will be able to reopen under Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, an industry chief has told LBC.

The chief executive officer of Young's Pubs, Patrick Dardis, told LBC's Eddie Mair that the prime minister's announcement in the Commons is "not great" for the sector.

Pubs and restaurants will begin a staggered reopening from mid-April at the earliest if coronavirus conditions have been met, Mr Johnson said earlier on Monday.

Hospitality venues will be able to reopen for outdoor service in the second stage of his four-step roadmap to freedom - beginning no earlier than 12 April.

This date will be confirmed at a later time and will be decided using five weeks of data on Covid-19 and the effect of the vaccines during Step One of the relaxation of rules.

However, Mr Dardis said 12 April would be all well and good if this was the Mediterranean, but will not be for England.

Read more: Life almost back to normal by July in PM's 'roadmap' to freedom

Read more: Working from home to stay in place until summer as part of roadmap

Pubs are set to begin a phased reopening from 12 April
Pubs are set to begin a phased reopening from 12 April. Picture: PA / LBC

"I'm looking out my window now; it is pretty miserable," he told Eddie.

"Whilst opening outdoors when the weather's nice, and you've got consistently good weather, you can cope with that," he continued, but, he added, "most pubs in the UK are not viable with just outdoor space".

"A very small percentage of the pubs in the UK would be able to open and, of course, in London hardly any of those will be able to open."

Should all go well during the five weeks of Step Two, the prime minister said this would be enough to move to the third stage, allowing for indoor hospitality to resume.

There will be no requirement to buy a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be a curfew, however table service will be a requirement.

This step will come into effect no earlier than 17 May.

But Mr Dardis said this date was still a "very, very long time" away for pubs and similar businesses which are "already on their knees".

"We were very much hoping to be treated like non-essential retail," he said.

"Again, pubs were first to close and we're last to reopen. So we were rather hoping to get some better news from the prime minister today."

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