Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Coronavirus blow as pubs won’t reopen for another month amid zoos opening next week

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The UK has struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic, seeing the worst death toll in Europe with 40,883 losing their lives to the virus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has however championed the declining rates of infection, and in May began easing lockdown measures.

Business secretary Alok Sharma announced on Tuesday that pubs and hairdressers will not be able to serve customers for another month.

He also warned retailers over their conduct ahead of next week’s re-opening of non-essential stores in England.

He told reporters of the sad development at the daily Downing Street press conference.

Sharma said: “I can confirm today that retail outlets which have been required to be closed will be able to open their doors again from Monday 15 June so long as they comply with the COVID-secure guidelines we published on May 25.”

Alok Sharma continued: “This is the latest step in the careful restarting of our economy and will enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life.”

But he has also poured cold water on hopes for a wider re-opening for consumer-focused businesses.

Mr Sharma confirmed that a wider re-open for pubs and bars would take place July 4 “at the earliest”.

Speculation had arose earlier about a quicker restart as Boris Johnson was concerned about job losses from the lockdown.

  

  

It comes as the Daily Telegraph reported that the two-meter rule was omitted from pub and restaurant re-opening draft guidance.

The proposal instead refers to “wider-spacing” between customers and installing safeguarding measures.

According to the paper, a draft of the guidance seen by Propel, the hospitality industry newsletter, encourages staff to split into shift teams and the “use of radios or telephones or other electronic devices when sending orders from service areas to kitchens”.

However, no specific requirement on the distance required between tables was specified in the document, which instead makes reference to “wider spacing” and the use of screens and barriers where appropriate.

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Mr Sharma said: “I know there’s been a lot of speculation about when we might be able to reopen these parts of the economy and I completely understand why we’re all so keen to get them back up and running, and I absolutely share that enthusiasm.

“But we continue to follow the road map which set out our ambition to reopen these sectors from July 4 at the earliest.”

Mr Sharma also said that a problem area for landlords and owners is the two-metre rule for social distancing which was being kept under review.

He said he was to lead five new recovery round tables to feed directly into the government’s work on helping the UK economy recover as the government continues financial support for businesses and wages amid the disruption.

The recovery round tables were announced after The Treasury had confirmed that almost £35 billion in loans had been provided, as well as announcing that 8.9 million people, a quarter of the UK’s workforce, were furloughed.

Mr Sharma said: “We will work shoulder to shoulder with our businesses as we get ready for our economic fightback.”

The minister also said, in a response to a journalist’s question about tougher foreign takeover regulations: “I think it’s important that we protect our critical assets, that is what we do through the Enterprise Act currently.

“Of course we will look to see through the forthcoming bill, when it comes through, how we might improve upon that.”

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