A UK pub chain will still encourage masks, social distancing and table service to ‘avoid a scrum at the bar’ with its boss declaring today: ‘July 19 has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ but it really shouldn’t be free for all day’.
Boris Johnson announced yesterday that it will no longer be a legal requirement for pubs to require customers to order drinks at their tables
But several pub chains may continue this – meaning people will still not be able to go to the bar if an individual pub bans it – and keep many of the rules imposed since the pandemic began in March 2020 to protect staff and customers from Covid-19.
Clive Watson, chief executive of the City Pub Group, who run 45 pubs across England and Wales, said: ‘July 19 has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ but it really shouldn’t be free for all day’.
He says staff will be asked to wear masks with customers encouraged to do the same, and if they approach the bar to order they will be initially urged to do it at the table.
While the boss of Punch Taverns, Clive Chesser, is demanding the Government scrap its current blanket self-isolation policy for a more ‘pragmatic’ test and release system to stop the crippling staff problems the NHS app is causing at his 1,300 pubs.
Clive Watson, chief executive of the City Pub Group, who run 45 pubs across England and Wales, said: ‘July 19 has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ but it really shouldn’t be free for all day’. While the boss of Punch Taverns, Clive Chesser, is demanding the Government scrap its current blanket self-isolation policy for a more ‘pragmatic’ test and release system
Pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at the bar – but some chains plan to keep some of the rules such as wearing masks
Britain today recorded 27,334 coronavirus cases, with the UK’s daily toll having risen by around a fifth in the space of a week. Department of Health bosses also posted nine laboratory-confirmed deaths, up from just three last Monday
At a Downing Street press conference, a bullish Mr Johnson also confirmed that nightclubs will be allowed to reopen for the first time since the first shutdown was imposed in March last year as he urged the public to use common sense and gauge risk for themselves.
BORIS JOHNSON SETS OUT PLANS FOR ‘FREEDOM DAY’ LIFTING OF ENGLAND’S LOCKDOWN
Boris Johnson has promised to tear up England’s coronavirus regulations at the next stage of the road map.
The Prime Minister has gambled on trusting the public’s judgment and the protection offered by vaccines as he scrapped mandatory mask-wearing and lifted social distancing requirements.
The so-called ‘freedom day’ is expected on July 19, with a decision on whether or not to go ahead being taken a week earlier.
Officials acknowledged that Covid-19 cases and deaths would continue to increase – albeit at a much lower level than before the vaccination programme – but it was now necessary to find a new way to live with the virus.
Under the Prime Minister’s plan for Step 4 of the road map:
- There will be no limits on social contact, meaning the end of the orders such as the ‘rule of six’ and restrictions on guests at weddings and mourners at funerals.
- Legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted, although guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in ‘enclosed and crowded places’.
- All remaining businesses will be able to reopen, including nightclubs, while capacity caps will be lifted and bars and restaurants will no longer be restricted to table service.
- The Government will no longer instruct people to work from home.
- The ‘one metre plus’ rule on social distancing will be lifted except in specific circumstances such as at the border, where guidance will remain to keep passengers from red and amber list countries from mingling with other travellers.
- The limit on named care home visitors will be lifted but infection control measures will remain in place.
- There will be no compulsory use of Covid status certification – so-called domestic vaccine passports – although firms will be able to voluntarily use the system.
- The gap between vaccine doses for under-40s will be reduced from 12 weeks to eight, meaning that all adults will have the opportunity to be double-jabbed by mid-September.
Although the legal requirement to self-isolate will remain for people who have tested positive or been identified as a contact by NHS Test and Trace, Mr Johnson wants contacts who are fully vaccinated to be exempt and the Government will set out further details in due course.
Later this week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will give an update on plans to remove the need for fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries to isolate, while Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will set out his plans for schools amid concern about the impact of the bubble system.
But Mr Watson from City Pub Group has said his businesses will keep many of the rules that remain in place now.
He told the BBC’s Today programme: ‘I think that staff should be encouraged or instructed to wear masks, I think that’s very important, and I also think from a customer’s point of view we will still try to offer as much service as possible at the table.
‘What we don’t want is a free for all scrum at the bar, with lots of people queuing up. Nearly 50% of our customers order their food and drink via the app, we want to continue that, with the rest ordering at table. We want to continue that as well.
‘It’s not like flicking a switch back to February 2020. We’re not going to say you cannot order at the bar – but we’re going to make it as easy as possible to order from the table. We’re not going to militant about it – but we’re not going to encourage people to order at the bar.
‘Staff will be encouraged to tell people: ‘No order at the table, that way you’ll get quicker service, easier service and safer service’.
‘And I think a lot of customers and staff will welcome that. It might not work for all. It’s about making customers and staff safe.
‘It’s easier to tell staff that it is best practice to wear masks. Customers will be more difficult but then they should be encouraged to wear masks and we will also have masks behind the bar.
‘Again we won’t be militant about but I think a lot of staff and customers will welcome people continuing with those safe practices that we’ve had over the past 18 months’.
Hospitality chiefs who have warned of the devastation wreaked to their industry by successive lockdowns during the pandemic are praising the end of compulsory mask wearing and table service in two weeks as declared by the Prime Minister.
Clive Chesser, Punch Pubs & Co CEO, said: ‘We very much welcome the move towards self-responsibility when going about our everyday lives, and we will of course continue to keep our teams and guests safe within our businesses.
‘At the same time, we are concerned by the lack of clarity on how the Test and Trace system will be adapted to provide a more pragmatic and risk-based system, moving to a ‘test to remain’ framework to reduce disproportionate interruptions to people’s working lives and to support business continuity. This is an urgent requirement, given the current level of disruption, and we remain keen to work with the Government on helping to find a more practical solution.’
UKHospitality said the announcement ‘marks a major milestone in how England will come to live with Covid and will be celebrated by hospitality business owners’ – but warned ‘it will still be a long road back for businesses that have been forced to take on debt just to survive’.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘The Prime Minister’s announcement marks a major milestone in how England will come to live with Covid and will be celebrated by hospitality business owners and their staff across the country.
‘For the vast majority of hospitality businesses, 19th July – if confirmed next week – will be the first time in 16 months that they have been able to realistically look to break even and move towards profitability.
‘It will still be a long road back for businesses that have been forced to take on debt just to survive, especially with the reintroduction of business rates payments. Nevertheless, this is a critical move that will unleash a sector that is eager to play its part in the wider national recovery, to repay the support afforded it by the Government.’
Boris Johnson pushed the button on a ‘big bang’ Freedom Day unlocking with social distancing rules, mask laws and the work from home order set to go
Track and trace QR codes are displayed outside a pub, in Manchester, north west England. These will also go – but the PM is being urged to get rid of the current self-isolation rules
The British Beer & Pub Association welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement and said the easing would allow more than 2,000 more pubs forced to stay shut due to social distancing restrictions to reopen.
Boris says self isolation for double-jabbed crippling firms, pubs and restaurants must stay for now but hints they will go later
People who are pinged by the test and trace app will continue to have to self isolate even if they have been fully vaccinated, Boris Johnson confirmed tonight.
In a blow to businesses, especially pubs and restaurants, the Prime Minister said that while he intends to lift the requirement for those who’ve received both jabs, it will not happen on July 19.
Business leaders have called for the rule to be axed, with many hospitality venues being crippled by a shortage of staff because when one is forced to isolate many others are who worked in close proximity with them.
Speaking to the nation tonight Mr Johnson said: ‘We will continue from Step Four to manage the virus with a test trace and isolate system that is proportionate to the pandemic.
‘You will have to self isolate if you test positive or are told to do so by NHS test and trace. But we are looking to move to a different regime for fully vaccinated contacts of those testing positive and also for children.’
Pubs and restaurants already hit by severe labour shortages are being forced to close and thousands of staff sent home due to the NHS Covid app repeatedly telling them to self-isolate amid soaring case numbers – with bosses demanding a ‘test and release’ scheme instead.
In a blow to businesses, especially pubs and restaurants, the Prime Minister said that while he intends to lift the requirement for those who’ve received both jabs, it will not happen on July 19.
Employees must stay at home for up to ten days after coming into contact with a positive case even if they test negative for Covid. Hospitality chiefs want this changed so that anyone who receives a negative result can go back to work.
A single Wetherspoons in Weston-super-Mare this week had 75 members of staff forced to stay at home after coming into contact with positive cases, while Hawksmoor steakhouse in London received 25 test and trace notifications within four weeks of reopening.
The one-metre plus decree and advice to work from home where possible will be dropped, with mask wearing no longer mandatory – while pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at the bar.
Even if plans to free the double-jabbed has been revealed tonight, a testing regime to replace self-isolation for the double-vaccinated was very unlikely to be ready for July 19.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that ministers intended to maintain a ‘proportionate test, trace and isolate system’, saying it would be ‘vital for continuing to manage the virus’.
‘It will remain a legal requirement to self isolate if you test positive or are asked to do so by NHS test and trace,’ he said.
‘The Prime Minister will also signal his intention to allow double-vaccinated individuals identified as contacts to be exempt from isolation requirements. Further details will follow in due course.’
Mr Johnson said the pandemic is ‘far from over’ and will not be over by July 19, with a potential 50,000 cases detected a day by that date.
He told the Downing Street press conference: ‘We’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.
‘In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there’s only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further, and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.’
He said the expectation remains that by July 19 every adult in the UK will have had the offer of a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and two-thirds will have had a second dose.
But after nearly 18 months of closure or operating under heavy restrictions, the trade body warned the ditching of lockdown measures would mark just the beginning of the sector’s recovery from the pandemic and urged the Government to reform VAT, beer duty and business rates.
Emma McClarkin, its chief executive, said ‘Covid, the lockdowns and restrictions have nearly destroyed our pubs’. She added:‘The lifting of all remaining restrictions on pubs in England, if the Government sticks to its roadmap, is hugely welcome for our sector. A pint of beer on July 19th is going to taste all the sweeter!
‘After nearly 18 months of forced closure or operating under severe restrictions – which crippled the viability of pubs – July 19th should mark the beginning of the recovery for our sector in England.
‘Over 2,000 pubs remained closed because they couldn’t viably operate with social distancing and table service only. Hopefully from July 19th, these pubs will be able to reopen. Covid, the lockdowns and restrictions have nearly destroyed our pubs. As they now get ready to reopen as normal once more, the recovery of our sector is only just beginning.
‘Having been one of the worst hit sectors by lockdown, our pubs and brewers now need the Government to invest in them by reforming VAT, beer duty and business rates to reduce the unfair tax burden they face and aid their recovery.’
Patrick Dardis, CEO of Young’s, said: ‘The summer is back on, all we need now is the weather to perk up. From the 19th July onwards, we will no longer ask staff or customers to wear masks. We will leave it to them to decide for themselves to or not to wear masks.
‘This is the best news in 18 months, pubs will be allowed to be pubs again. We will embrace that and look forward to welcoming back vertical drinking and orders at the bar. It has been a long time coming, 18 months of been told what to do, how to do it, now we have our freedom back.
‘We can decide for ourselves, that is what liberty is all about. Bring on the 19th July.’
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said the body was ‘encouraged by much of what the Prime Minister said’ but admitted it was ‘disappointed’ that Mr Johnson said the final reopening of nightclubs would be decided on July 12.
He said: ‘To hear the Prime Minister say that we need to learn to live with this virus is a long overdue step, and will be a relief to our sector. It is difficult to overstate the significance of the impact the pandemic has had on this industry. The Government’s support package has been important but insufficient.
‘After 479 days closed, we now need that counter set to zero so we can start to rebuild.’
Mr Kill added: ‘We have been encouraged by much of what the Prime Minister said today about what Government restrictions will look like in the next phase of reopening.
‘The end of social distancing; the end of the rule of six and table service for indoor mixing; no ban on mass events; the removal of the need to scan a QR code to enter venues; and the decision not to introduce Covid status certification – these are all very important steps that we have been campaigning for, because they are the restrictions which have decimated the night time economy over the last sixteen months.’
But a Wetherspoon spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We will look into what the Government is proposing later this week, having discussed with pub teams during our calls on pubs in the interim. In broad terms, Wetherspoon, like the industry, welcomes with open arms, any signs of normality.’
And Alastair Kerr of the Campaign for Pubs told MailOnline: ‘It is clear that these unfair restrictions on the hospitality sector must come to an end. I hope that the PM keeps to his statement today and ends the unjust restrictions on the hospitality sector.’
Despite declaring an end to most lockdown measures from July 19, Mr Johnson told the Downing Street press conference that the pandemic was ‘far from over’ with cases rising ‘fairly rapidly’ and warned ‘there could be 50,000 cases detected per day by the 19th’.
He also said this is not the moment ‘demob happy’ as he warned that the battle against coronavirus is ‘very far’ from over, adding: ‘I don’t want people to feel this is, as it were, the moment to get demob happy, this is the end of Covid – it is very far from the end of dealing with this virus.’
Pun bosses are adamant they will be ditching all curbs as soon as possible, with Essex landlord Adam Brooks telling MailOnline: ‘I’ll be ditching everything. It’s what’s right. It’s what the businesses were designed as, hundreds of years of history. Standing at bars is a British tradition.’
He later posted on social media: ‘Hospitality and this country needs what’s going to be said tonight. This isn’t about ‘Drinking at a bar’ .. This is about life as you knew it returning [sic].’
Will your boss still let you work from home? Boris Johnson says rules that have kept people out of city centres for months will go – but leaves it up to firms to decide how quickly to bring staff back to offices and factories – if at all
Enforced working from home will be scrapped within weeks after Boris Johnson vowed to axe Covid lockdown rules that had turned cities across England into ghost towns.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the drastic legal requirement introduced in March last year that left millions in the spare room or at the kitchen table will be abandoned.
But the move to be taken when Step Four of the roadmap out of lockdown comes into force – most likely on July 19 – will allow employers to choose the pace at which their employers come back to work.
There will also be fresh guidance on how to operate a safe workplace that will be based on Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules from before the pandemic.
The news will be a boost for city retailers who have suffered from a lack of footfall, and companies with large, expensive premises which have lain empty for months at great expense.
But it remains to be seen how many firms – and staff – will want to return to full-time workplace life and the financial and time costs that come with it.
He added in a second Tweet: ‘Isn’t freedom a lovely thing, the CHOICE to wear a mask or social distance if YOU want to, the choice not go to the busy pub or restaurant if YOU don’t want to [sic].’
At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson declared an end to most lockdown restrictions from July 19.
Social distancing rules, the work from home order, and mask mandates are expected to be ditched as the Prime Minister argued that we must learn to live with coronavirus as we do with the flu.
The Prime Minister confirmed a bonfire of virus rules and restrictions from the so-called Freedom Day later this month, in which he will say that individuals will again be able to judge the risks of coronavirus for themselves.
The announcement was welcomed with cautious optimism by Wetherspoons boss, Tim Martin.But the pub giant boss said he would be waiting to see what the government’s plans are when they are finally published.
He told MailOnline: ‘We will look into what the government is proposing later this week, having discussed with pub teams during our calls on pubs in the interim. In broad terms, Wetherspoon, like the industry, welcomes with open arms, any signs of normality.’
This was echoed by pub chain Youngs, who also said they would wait until the Prime Minister’s announcement before any decision would be made over restrictions in their pubs.
However, Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, warned councils may still attempt to enforce some rules after the so-called Freedom Day has passed.
She told the Telegraph newspaper: ‘I think there might be a temptation of local authorities, that needs to be resisted, to put in place actual fixed regulations or rules that are more restrictive than they need to be.’
Under the new plans set out, hospitality venues in England will no longer be required to collect track and trace data from July 19.
Businesses will not have to ask customers to scan a QR code using the NHS phone app on entry or to hand over their contact details – though they will have the option of continuing to do so if they wish.
Mandatory table service rules will also be scrapped from July 19, meaning drinkers will be able to order at the bar again in pubs.
Gary Murphy, the manager at the Grade II listed Ye Old Mitre pub in High Barnet, London, was pleased at the news and described current rules on mask wearing in pubs as ‘lunacy’.
Mr Murphy told MailOnline: ‘You’re wearing one to stand up but you take it off to sit down, and staff have to wear one when they’re doing table service – none of those regulations make much sense anyway. I think the general public agree with me there.’
The new normal! Face masks, distancing, socialising and isolation… everything you need to know about our post-lockdown rules as we begin to emerge from Covid pandemic
What’s being axed?
RULE OF SIX
There will be no legal limits on social contact, meaning groups will not have to limit themselves to six people or two households if they are mixing indoors.
Groups outdoors can be as large as people want them to be.
WEDDING AND FUNERAL CAP
The limits on attendance at weddings, funerals and other major life events are being scrapped.
Limits on attendance at weddings, funerals and other major life events will be scrapped under the new plans. (Stock image)
ART AND SPORT VENUE LIMITS
There will be no more restrictions on the size of an audience at a concert or a show, or a crowd at a sports fixture, which means theatres and stadiums can run at full capacity.
All other legal requirements for venues to close will be lifted, allowing night-time industries – including nightclubs – to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began.
No restrictions on singing, or even guidance to restrict it. It means singing by church choirs can continue – as can karaoke nights.
What’s guidance not law?
Legal rules mandating the wearing of face masks will be axed.
However, guidance will state that people should wear them in hospitals and care homes as well as in ‘crowded public spaces’.
It will also suggest that people should wear masks in places where cases are rising.
Transport services such as the London Underground may decide to make wearing masks a condition of travel.
Private companies will be allowed to make them a requirement for entry, as Ryanair has already announced on its flights.
Legal rules mandating the wearing of face masks will be axed but guidance will state that people should wear them in hospitals and care homes as well as in ‘crowded public spaces’. (Stock image)
GOING TO PUBS
It will no longer be a legal requirement to scan a QR code on entry to a venue as part of the test and trace system.
However, venues will be allowed to make use of the codes a requirement for entry if they choose.
It will also no longer be a legal requirement for pubs to require customers to order drinks at their tables. However, some pub chains may continue this – meaning that people will still not be able to go to the bar if an individual pub bans it.
The one-metre rule will be scrapped in law – meaning fewer Perspex screens in offices.
It also means hospitality businesses like pubs and restaurants won’t have to limit customers to ensure they are spaced apart.
However, the one-metre rule will continue to be enforced at borders, such as in airports, amid concern over people coming into the country with variants.
WORKING FROM HOME
The Government’s ‘work from home’ message will end and employers will be able to start to plan a return to the workplace.
But it will still be up to individual employers. Some may decide to continue with working from home for the foreseeable future.
And although guidance to employers will be slimmed down, it will still encourage them to ensure rooms are properly ventilated to minimise risk.
The Government’s ‘work from home’ message will end and employers will be able to start to plan a return to the workplace. (Stock image)
CAP ON CARE HOME VISITS
The current restriction that people can only be seen by five named visitors will be scrapped.
But strict infection-control measures – such as the wearing of PPE and regular cleaning – will continue, with more detail to be announced later.
Covid status certification – so-called vaccine passports – will not be legally required in domestic settings.
It is being left up to individual venues to decide themselves whether to demand Covid status certification through the NHS App as a condition of entry.
Still waiting for details?
A new system to allow double-jabbed people to avoid quarantine after returning from amber-list countries does not yet have a start date.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is working with the travel industry to introduce the scheme, with more details due later this week.
It could begin on July 19 – but possibly not until August 2.
A new system to allow double-jabbed people to avoid quarantine after returning from amber-list countries does not yet have a start date. Pictured: Passengers arrive to Heathrow Airport
Ministers want to scrap the need for double-jabbed people to self-isolate if they are contacted by test and trace, or ‘pinged’ by the NHS app.
A decision will be announced later this week, although it is not clear when such a system might come into effect. The rules could also be changed for children.
The Government wants to scrap the requirement to send a whole class home if one pupil tests positive – and to replace the ‘bubbles’ system with testing.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, will announce details today.
Schools are not expected to be asked to bring in a new system until next term.
The Government wants to scrap the requirement to send a whole class home if one pupil tests positive. (Stock image)
A final decision on whether all the above changes will be implemented is not expected to be announced until next Monday, July 12.
They will only go ahead if the Government deems the country has met its ‘four tests’.
Boris Johnson said yesterday he would do ‘everything possible’ to stop restrictions being re-imposed in the future.
ALSO: ROLLOUT OF VACCINES
The gap between first and second vaccines for the under-40s will be shortened from 12 weeks to eight to help ensure that everyone can be doubled jabbed by September.
Contact tracing will not be stood down because the Prime Minister believes it will be essential to help manage future Covid outbreaks. (Stock image)
The system will not be stood down because the Prime Minister believes it will be essential to help manage Covid outbreaks in future.
Keeping the system means people can still be contacted if they have been in proximity to a Covid sufferer.
Guidance will back venues scanning customers in to help support contact tracing.