But publicans, brewers, and the commercial pubs industry said it would be difficult for many to be ready in less than three weeks and called for certainty about the government’s timetable.
“We have always wanted to reopen pubs in our country safely and securely as soon as possible, but we urgently need a clear decision on whether we can reopen pub beer gardens early,” said Emma McClarkin, Managing Director of British Beer & Pub. Association (BBPA).
The trade organization, which represents the UK’s largest ad companies, has already warned that 40% of the UK’s 47,000 pubs may close permanently due to lockout restrictions.
He wants the government to allow all pubs to open from July 4, the date initially proposed by the government as the closest possible opportunity, and he also said that the 27,000 British pubs with outdoor space should be the first to be able to open. their doors. .
But he said that a sudden acceleration of the plans would make many pubs unable to restock draft beer and put in place security measures quickly enough, with at least three weeks required.
Proposals to allow beer gardens to open from June 22 were first reported on Sunday evening in the Financial Times, which quoted three Whitehall officials. The government has since refused to confirm whether the earlier date was under consideration.
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said that officials “were working at a brisk pace to develop safe facilities for pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes in reopen at the first opportunity, it is safe to do so ”.
Ministers are expected to discuss proposals at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, including potentially reducing physical distance requirements to 1 meter from 2 meters.
Greg Mulholland, a former MP who chairs the British Pubs Confederation, said the government’s plans seemed “half-cooked”, warning that the lack of clarity could prevent pubs from being ready in the short term.
He also expressed concern that ad companies would use June 22 as an excuse to charge rent for troubled tenants, even if the rules of distancing made it impossible to open them.
JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin said opening certain pubs would at least give some confidence that the industry will return to normal.“Few pubs will be able to make a profit by using only the outdoor space, but a partial reopening will give a psychological boost to a struggling industry,” said Martin. “This will signal the government’s intention to move towards normalcy, which will be welcome.”
Nearly 700 of Wetherspoons’ 867 pubs have a beer garden, rooftop terrace or patio, and the company has already made plans for a pandemic era pub involving bar staff wearing glasses and glasses. protective screens between tables.
Mark Daniels, the owner of the Brewers Arms in Worcester, said he would like to open his beer garden, but that it would be difficult to do so in a fortnight.
He said, “If things were going well, I would jump on it. We have already lost a lot in good weather with two holidays. But there are more problems to consider. If you cannot function fully, would there be rent supplements? In addition, brewers will need to know as soon as possible to be able to meet demand. ”
Some craft brewers fear that a short-term calendar will put them at a disadvantage compared to large global brewing companies.
Sam McMeekin, co-founder of Gipsy Hill Brewery in south-east London, said: “It is incredibly complex to relaunch fresh beer. It takes about 25 days to prepare a draft beer and about four large brewers.
“If they have 15 days notice, they can have fresh beer ready and available. They also have power over their suppliers, which helps them get the ingredients, even on credit. For us, people will demand payment for our next delivery of barley. ”
McMeekin said that small brewers would also be hit much harder if the pubs they sell went bankrupt without paying their bills.