Johnson says it’s time to rely on common sense. Will that work?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that, from July 4th 2020, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to conditionally and cautiously re-open both indoors and outdoors.
After downgrading the Covid alert level, the government’s scientific advisers do not believe there is currently a danger of a second wave that will overwhelm the NHS. “We can now go further to ease the lockdown - although caution will be our watchword,” said the PM, before laying out next stage plans.
Many may not know just how much economically this sector contributes to the running of the city
The 2m social distancing rule, which prevented hospitality businesses from operating effectively, is to be relaxed from 4th July. Where keeping a 2m distance not possible, 1m should be observed ‘while taking mitigations to reduce transition.’
Restaurants, pubs and bars were forced to close on March 21st as part of UK plans to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. The government are now asking the public to “follow guidance rather than legislation.”
In order to help prevent transmission of coronavirus and to reassure customers, individual hospitality businesses are being encouraged to put in safety guidelines. These include operating a table service and introducing pre-booking to reduce and monitor the number of customers. Measures also include the installation of protective screens, availability of hand sanitiser, single use menus, providing face coverings for employees who will have less direct customer contact, and monitoring staff shift patterns.
This, however, puts much pressure on individual venues who will have to police their own premises to make sure customers are following social distancing rules.
“We cannot lift all restrictions at once,” said Johnson. “We must trust the British public to use common sense. The more we open up, the more vigilant we will have to be.”
Many people obviously want to go to the pub again, but how is it possible to trust other customers to keep more than 1m distance away - especially if they’re a bit tipsy.
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has welcomed the Government's announcement, after latest figures show the huge economic return the culture and hospitality has for Liverpool.
Leisure, creative and cultural industries bring in around £3.3bn to the city region each year, which equates to 38 per cent of the city’s economy. The business rate contribution of this sector is 49.8 per cent which allows £270.5million to be re-invested in core services such as social care, health care and in education. It also supports 60,000 jobs.
The Government announcement comes just one day after the city launched its Liverpool Without Walls campaign which will introduce road closures, street furniture and grants which will give businesses in Liverpool the best chance of being ready to trade when the government restrictions are lifted. Read more about the project here.
Mayor Anderson said: "People are aware that Liverpool is synonymous with culture, but many may not know just how much economically this sector contributes to the running of the city.
“I’ve always said that culture will be the rocket fuel of our economy, and these numbers prove how valuable the sector really is to our city.
“Quite simply the effects of Covid-19 on this particular sector have been devastating. But thanks to today’s announcement there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“It goes hand in hand with the Liverpool Without Walls initiative which will see us working with partners to support businesses while they slowly and safely reopen, and in doing so we can encourage visitors to once again head in to the city and enjoy everything out cultural sector has to offer.”
𝙒𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙣'𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙚𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 ✨
From 4th July Liverpool's restaurants, bars, museums, galleries, cinemas and self-contained accommodation can re-open! 😄
Our city region is working hard to welcome you all back with open (safe and distanced) arms on 4th July! ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/PRhdYpp5k0
— VisitLiverpool (@VisitLiverpool) June 23, 2020
During his statement in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “Our long national hibernation is coming to an end. A new cautious optimism is palpable, but it would be all too easy for that frost to return.”
He promised the Government would continue to monitor the data and “will not hesitate to apply the brakes and reinstate the restrictions” if cases of coronavirus began to spike.
Many restaurants in Liverpool have already been putting in new safety measures for a number of weeks now in anticipation of them being allowed to reopen.
Although the latest update is welcome news to those in the hospitality sector, many customers feel slightly cautious about returning to normality.
Over the coming days we will be chatting to a number of local restaurant operators to gather their responses to the easing of lockdown restrictions, discover their plans for reopening and hear more about what they're doing to ease customer confidence.