Pubs must wait until at least April

Pubs and bars will have to wait until April before outdoor trading can begin.

Pubs and bars in England will have to wait until April before they're allowed to open their doors to the public, with initial trading only applying to outside environments when they do.

Following the prime minister's announcement today (22 February), which outlined the government's roadmap of easing lockdown restrictions in England, hospitality will be kept closed until 12 April, when venues will be limited to trading outdoors.

The full reopening of the sector, when venues can trade indoors, will be permitted from 17 May at the earliest.

Boris Johnson also confirmed that the former 'alcohol must be served with food' rule will be abolished. When pubs reopen, there will be no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, as well as no curfew. However, the requirement to order, eat and drink while seated will remain.

From 21 June, all legal limits on social contact will be removed, which Johnson said will include the reopening of nightclubs. 

More support is needed 

The cabinet met virtually this morning to discuss the reopening plan. The government has said that the roadmap for leaving lockdown seeks to balance health, economic and social factors, with the very latest epidemiological data and advice.

From 8 March two friends can meet for coffee outdoors, while six friends or two households can meet outside from 29 March. Other non-essential retail businesses will also reopen from 12 April, when pubs begin serving from their gardens.  

Johnson concluded his statement by saying the government will not "pull the rug out" from businesses in terms of the support they will receive.

With further delays on the reopening of hospitality, the on-trade will now be waiting to see what levels of extra support will be afforded to the industry, which should be revealed by the chancellor Rishi Sunak next week when he presents the upcoming budget.