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Pubs to reopen in just FOUR WEEKS as Brits told pints in beer gardens possible in July

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Restaurants with outdoor areas are also likely to be able to serve customers again when restrictions are eased. All venues for socialising, including theatres, clubs and cinemas, have been closed for more than two months after the Prime Minister announced last orders on March 20.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the coronavirus infection rate is believed to be lower outdoors.

He said: “The sectors that are going to have the greatest challenge getting back to work, which we recognise, and I’m sure the Chancellor recognises this too, the hospitality sector and some of those other ticketed venues, in particular cinemas and in particular theatres, restaurants and pubs, will also face a challenge getting back into operation.

“And that is why we won’t be loosening the restrictions on them until at least July and even then it is likely that in the case of pubs and restaurants it will begin with beer gardens and outdoor areas only.”

The UK’s hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis and faces prolonged pain while social distancing measures remain in place.

Industry leaders called for all pubs to be allowed to reopen at the same time as long as they can put safety measures in place to protect customers and staff.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UK Hospitality, said: “Reopening pubs and bars should be phased according to agreed protocols to ensure safe spaces for staff members and customers.

“It should be done on whether they are able to operate safely with social distancing in place, not arbitrarily on whether or not a pub has a garden.

“Forcing businesses that do not have outdoor spaces, but could operate perfectly safely, to stay closed makes no sense.”

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Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the “very existence” of many venues is at risk.

She said: “All pubs that are able to fulfil the social distancing requirements should be able to open.

“We want to explore all opportunities for our nation’s pubs to reopen safely and viably as soon as is possible. It is why we are working with the Government to consider all possible options.

“27,000 of the UK’s pubs have beer gardens, so it makes sense re-opening them for people to enjoy the summer sun.

“However, opening a pub beer garden requires the rest of the pub to reopen, from the bar to the facilities.”

Brewer and pub group Young’s said it expects “lower sales” when its sites reopen and announced it will not pay shareholders a dividend for the past year.

READ MORE: Boris warned of ‘public rebellion’ unless he tells pubs to reopen soon

Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, raised concerns about the safety of holding a barbecue.

She said: “That is the really dangerous thing because then we are really starting handling things backwards and forwards to each other – plates, glasses, cups and so forth.

“So if you really want to have a social gathering and a meal, and the more time we spend outdoors the better, then it should be a picnic where we each bring our own food and knives and forks and plates and everything and keep them to ourselves and take them away with us.

“Then we can have a really nice social gathering. But barbecues, please no, at the moment.”

The new lockdown rules come into force despite the coronavirus alert level remaining at four, the second highest.

People classed as clinically vulnerable were told they are likely to remain in isolation for “several more months”.

Mr Eustice admitted government ministers “don’t have answers yet” about how and when they will be able to venture out.

Steven McIntosh, Macmillan Cancer Support policy director, said it was “incredibly bleak and distressing” news for those in the high-risk category.

“It’s simply not acceptable that they just get a message that they are going to have to continue to do this for some time longer, they need to understand what that means and what support is available,” he added.

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