Restaurants and pubs cannot come out of coronavirus lockdown “until May”

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A government source said restaurants and pubs in London may not be able to reopen until May of this year, a month after the lockdown restrictions were first lifted at the end of March.

Le Sunday Times quotes the anonymous Downing Street source as contradicting Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week. “The May 1 public holiday is more likely when you see the pubs reopening,” the source said. At a press conference on Tuesday, Johnson said that while the lockdown legislation was in effect until March 31, he hoped to start lifting the measures by mid-February. It was revealing, however, that Johnson chose not to commit to a timetable for the schools to reopen, despite saying they would be the first to reopen. The companies had been planning a return to some sort of “normal” at Easter since before Christmas. Easter is a full month ahead of the May date cited by the Downing Street source.

On the one hand, the May date can be disappointing and disappointing for hospitality – that is, five months of reduced or restricted negotiation under the strictest of restrictions while Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared the spread of the COVID-19 in London as a “major incident” on Friday: the capital is now at the epicenter of an unprecedented and worsening public health crisis. In contrast, the timescale itself takes priority in the pandemic: in 2020, the first phase of restrictions was lifted in June, while hospitality was allowed to reopen from the first week of July. .

And yet news of the May reopening rumor would indicate the government failed to learn lessons from last year: not only does the nature of this leak – unofficial, unverified – add to the sense of uncertainty. restaurant, the government has repeatedly rushed the reopening. , the effect of which was to worsen the impact of closing with the expense and exhaustion of a close-reopen-close-ropen yo-yoing. This May date would also keep businesses closed for at least a month beyond March 31, when business eviction protections would expire. If that was correct, these protections should be extended.

But if the effects of the UK vaccine rollout may then have alleviated the severity of the coronavirus crisis, what remains unknown and uncertain at this time is: What does ‘reopening’ mean? Al fresco dining first? Dine indoors with restrictions on the household mix? Full reopening with social distancing guidelines (and reduced coverage numbers) still in place?

The restaurant industry must now wait until January 18, when it can expect to learn more about the timing of the lifting of the restrictions. Unless, of course, new leaks pursue the apparent predilection of policymakers to make a meal of its future.

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