Coronavirus UK: Slash social-distancing to allow more pubs to reopen, say UK landlords

Slash social distancing to 3ft to allow up to 120% more pubs to reopen, urge UK landlords who say smaller venues without beer gardens will struggle to keep 6ft gap between drinkers

  • Brewery bosses claim many pubs are too small to enforce stringent measures
  • They say halving recommended distance would mean more pubs can reopen 
  • Pubs have been shut since March 20 – just before the start of the lockdown
  • Bosses have discussed safety tactics such as protective screens and apps
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

By Helena Kelly For The Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Pubs in Britain have urged the Government to relax the two-metre (6ft) social distancing rule during the coronavirus pandemic so they can reopen.

Brewery bosses claim many pubs are too small to successfully enforce the stringent measures.

They say halving the recommended distance to one metre (3ft) would mean 120 per cent more pubs would be able to reopen when safe to do so.

Two men and a dog sit outside a closed pub in Barnard Castle in County Durham yesterday

The Princess of Wales in Primose Hill, North London, sells takeaway pints of beer yesterday

Pubs have been shut since March 20 – just before the start of the lockdown – but the Government has said they hope to reopen them in July.

Safety tactics such as protective screens, one-way systems and apps for ordering pints have been discussed by pub owners as possible ways to prevent coronavirus transmission, reported The Sun.

But smaller pubs are worried that the two-metre social distancing rule will mean they cannot accept enough customers to keep them in business.

It comes as industry experts estimate pubs lost ten million pint sales over the sunny Bank Holiday weekend.

Emma McClarkin, head of the British Beer and Pub Association, told The Sun: ‘We are all missing the great British pub.

This graphic shows how Wetherspoon pubs could look when they are allowed to reopen again

‘We are working day in, day out alongside the Government to create a safe socialising environment for our staff and customers to return to.

‘Pubs with gardens should be in a great position to reopen at the earliest opportunity, and we hope that the Government will look again at revising the social distancing guidance.’

The two-metre distancing rule is based on the fact that droplets from sneezes and coughs can travel anywhere between one and two metres.

While Britain has strictly maintained a two-metre rule, many other countries such as France have only ever imposed a one-metre rule.

Community officers speak to a woman selling food and drinks yesterday outside a pub in Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Australia, Germany and the Netherlands meanwhile recommend people stay 1.5 metres away from each other.

The World Health Organisation has advised that a one-metre social distancing rule is sufficient to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Last week Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, admitted Britain had taken a ‘precautionary approach’ to social distancing.

She added that the government would be open to reducing the social distancing rules if doing so was supported by adequate scientific evidence. 

There is widespread panic in the already-struggling pub industry, with some of the 48,349 pubs in Britain expected to never reopen.

Empty beer garden tables on what would normally be a busy pub in Windsor last Saturday

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of brewing giant Marston’s, which owns 1,400 premises, said any move to reopen establishments was at least five weeks off.

Pub premises have been allowed to operate takeaway services during the lockdown to try to keep businesses afloat.

Staff have been wearing personal protective equipment and ensuring customers are two metres apart in queues.

People may be able to buy drinks from pubs at market-style stalls from June 1 as ministers look to relax outdoor seating licences from July.

But places that do not have external space may be forced to stay shut for longer and will have to fork out £300 for a licence.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said pubs would have been packed on a normal late May Bank Holiday, with good weather forecast, and the FA Cup final usually held on the Saturday.

The trade body noted pubs were the first businesses to be ordered to shut down by the Government in March and could be among the last to re-open.

The BBPA said not all premises will reopen from July as many will not be able to meet the social distancing measures required by then.

Ensuring a distance of two metres will be impossible for some pubs, keeping them closed for much longer, said the BBPA.

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