Young's boss hopes pubs re-open by May but warns of restrictions

Glass half-full: Young’s boss hopes for Boris to let pubs re-open in May at latest but warns punters they will still face the same restrictions and rules over drinking together as last year

  • Patrick Dardis hopes Boris’s ‘road map’ out of lockdown will provide pubs clarity 
  • He said similar restrictions as those imposed in July should be implemented
  • Warned thousands of jobs could be lost if the pubs are forced to stay shut 

The boss of Young’s has warned drinkers they will almost certainly face the same restrictions as last summer when Boris Johnson finally lets pubs re-open. 

Patrick Dardis, chief executive officer for the pub chain, said that implementing anything less than the restrictions seen last summer would be ‘unviable’ if pub doors are kept shut until May.

It comes ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the ‘road map’ out of lockdown on Monday, with reports this week suggesting pubs could have to wait until the start of May to reopen.

The boss of Young’s has warned restrictions similar to those introduced last summer. Pictured: Customers are seen at The Holland Tringham Wetherspoons pub in London after it reopened in July

Patrick Dardis, chief executive officer for the pub chain, said reopening would be ‘unviable’ if they were to repoen in May without the same restrictions as last year

Mr Dardis’s words come as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil his ‘road map’ out of lockdown on Monday. Pictured: pub-goers enjoyed some chicken wings with their drinks at the Goldengrove pub in Stratford in East London when pubs reopened in July 

The pub boss hopes the new restrictions will be similar to those seen in the summer, including asking drinkers to make orders from their table installing protective screens at tills and between tables and floor markings to help enforce social distancing.

Mr Dardis, who leads the 190-year-old pub owner and brewer, said that he was desperate for clarity after the sector was placed in a ‘standstill’ after Christmas.

‘My greatest fear is that we are not given clear reopening plans on Monday,’ he said.

‘Opening in May is not ideal, we would massively prefer April, but at least if that is announced we have clarity we can work with.

The Young’s boss is hoping restrictions in pubs will similar to those implemented in July last year (detailed above)

The pub chain chief executive hopes part of Boris’s ‘road map’ out of lockdown will see restrictions on pubs similar to those applied in July. Pictured: Social distancing rules were very much in place at the Alexandra Palace Terrace bar, with tables spaced out more than two metres apart in July

Some of the restrictions in pubs seen in the summer included asking drinkers to make orders from their table installing protective screens at tills and between tables and floor markings to help enforce social distancing.

Mr Dardis, who leads the 190-year-old pub owner and brewer, said that he was desperate for clarity after the sector was placed in a ‘standstill’ after Christmas. Pictured: Pub going in Stratford in July

‘If it is May, we need to be able to reopen with at least the same rules in place as July 4, so we have two households inside and rule of six outside.’

He said these restrictions would also need to come alongside an extension to the current business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure, and an extension to current VAT cuts.

Mr Dardis warned that ‘thousands of jobs are on the line’ if the reopening of pubs takes place later in the year.

All of the company’s 276 UK pubs are currently shut following the third national coronavirus lockdown.

Last week, Mr Dardis was among a number of pub chiefs to write to the Prime Minister after resigning from a weekly forum with business minister Paul Scully over frustrations regarding the sector’s dialogue with the Government.

‘Mr Scully was listening to us and constructive but it feels obvious to us that there were others in Government who didn’t share his position,’ he said.

Mr Dardis was among a number of pub chiefs to write to the Prime Minister after resigning from a weekly forum with business minister Paul Scully. Pictured: Boris Johnson pulls a pint of Windsor & Eton brewery’s Knight of the Garter beer with JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin in July 2019

While Dardis said opening pubs in May is ‘not ideal’, stating they would prefer April, he stressed that some sort of clarity either way would be good. Pictured: A customer sanitises his hands at The Mossy Well, a J D Wetherspoon pub reopen for business, in Muswell Hill, London, in July 

Mr Dardis warned that ‘thousands of jobs are on the line’ if the reopening of pubs takes place later in the year. Pictured: Bar staff at the Black Horse Inn in Haxby, York, wore protective face masks and served behind plastic shields to protect both them and customers  in July

‘I think, with suggestions around outdoor opening and no alcohol, there are people who must think ‘pubs are evil’ and still have this Victorian view of pubs as smoke-filled, dingy places.

‘I’d love to take all of the cabinet to one of our pubs for a Sunday lunch so they can really see what it’s like, that it is a key cog in the community.’

It comes as it was revealed England’s 10pm coronavirus curfew on pubs and restaurants introduced in September did nothing to reduce the spread of the disease.

What measures were in place during the summer? 

Pubs were given the green light to reopen at 6am from July 4 last year, with several restrictions in place to ensure social distancing was adhered to.  

Many pubs welcomed customers via a booking system, with two or three-hour reservation slots available.

Punters were not allowed to order at the bar, only from their table, with different groups spaced at least one metre apart, strictly-enforced queuing systems and one-way arrows on the floor.

Groups of more than two households were banned but groups of six could meet up if dining outdoors.

Venues that were previously indoor-only invested in picnic tables and outdoor garden lighting, while some put up marquees and even plastic dining ‘bubbles’.

Ordering and paying was cash free and customers had to leave full contact details with the venue for 21 days for tracing purposes.

Furthermore, cutlery and condiments were not laid out on tables, and some venues even suggested customers brought their own.

Menus were limited and there was no live music.

 

Tensions over the pub issue erupted this week when pub owners walked out of Government meetings after ministers accused them of leaking the high-anticipated road map plans, insiders told The Sun.  

Hospitality bosses ‘stormed out’ of a meeting with ministers over plans for coming out of lockdown after demanding all pubs, restaurants and hotels be allowed to reopen from April.

Business chiefs are also calling for a radical overhaul of the lockdown Tier system as part of efforts to prevent mass job losses.

Trade group UK Hospitality has submitted a document to the Prime Minister ahead of next week’s announcement, urging venues to be allowed to trade in all Tiers other than Tier 4, which is already considered, in everything but name, a full lockdown. 

Representative for the Campaign for Pubs in south-west England Alastair Kerr said: ‘The proposal by the Government to only allow pubs to open and serve their outside areas, such as their beer gardens is an absurd idea and should not be implemented. 

‘Pubs have suffered their worst trading year on record and if this policy were to be put in place, then upwards of 30,000 of our beloved British pubs would stay in this prolonged suffering.  

‘Pubs play a crucial role in our society, communities and simply can no longer be poorly treated by this Government. 

‘The Government must see that pubs have had an unproportionate burden of restrictions placed on them and now it must support our pubs not hinder our pubs.’  

Scientists looked at data from nearly 4,000 Britons to measure the effect of various lockdown measures last summer and autumn.

They found the controversial curfew, introduced on September 24, had ‘no measurable effect’ on reducing the number of contacts people mingled with.

The policy was heavily criticised by hospitality bosses who said it was yet another blow to one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan even claimed at the time the curfew led to increased social mixing on the streets and on public transport after final orders.  

But the latest study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found there was no ‘appreciable effect’ either way.

The team also reviewed how effective the Rule of Six, the Tier system, and work from home guidance was at reducing social contacts.

The Rule of Six, introduced on September 14, caused more than one third of people to reduce their number of close contacts. 

The impact of the tier system was found to be mixed, with Tier 1 and 2 having little impact on the average number of contacts, but Tier 3 reducing contacts.

Tory MP Mark Harper says vaccine passport for pubs would ‘discriminate’ against young

By Jack Elsom for MailOnline 

Vaccine passports should be ruled out because they would ‘discriminate’ against young people who are last in line for jabs, a senior Tory MP has warned.

Mark Harper, chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, railed against suggestions that inoculated Britons could be allowed greater freedom sooner.   

He said the economic damage of lockdown has disproportionately fallen on the young and making them wait would be ‘appalling’.

Boris Johnson has signalled his reluctance for vaccine certificates to be used to safely unlock sections of the economy, such as for entry to pubs. 

But these so-called vaccine passports remain a live discussion and Dominic Raab indicated they are ‘under consideration’ in Government.

Polling also found that a majority of the public supports using vaccine passports in hospitality settings. 

Such a scenario set imaginations running wild of a world where the only punters in pubs are over-65 – and not a single pint is posted on Instagram. 

Vaccine passports set imaginations running wild of a world where the only punters in pubs are over-65

Appearing on BBC Question Time, Mr Harper warned against such a policy, and said: ‘The reality is that young people will be the last to be vaccinated, they’re the ones who have been damaged most by the economic dislocation of Covid. 

‘And we’d be in the ridiculous position where we’d be reopening the economy and younger people are shut out and older people were allowed to go back out again. I think it’s appalling. It’s discriminatory.’

He acknowledged that national governments may require proof of vaccination to enter their countries, but said applying the system domestically was ‘a very bad idea’.       

The 60-strong CRG of backbenchers have demanded lockdown restrictions are lifted for everyone by May, when all over-50s in the top nine priority groups should have been offered a vaccine. 

Mark Harper, chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, railed against suggestions that inoculated Britons could be allowed greater freedom sooner

But Government scientists are urging for the Prime Minister to tread cautiously when he announces his road map to relaxing curbs on Monday. 

Yet by Easter, when pubs have been mooted for reopening, millions of young people will still be awaiting jabs at the pace of the current rollout.  

The Prime Minister this week said: ‘What I don’t think we will have in this country is – as it were – vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.’

But his remarks came days after Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary, refused to rule them out, saying they are ‘something under consideration’. 

A Savanta Comres poll this week found 55 per cent of people back using them for pubs and restaurants, while only 19 per cent were opposed.

Tongue-in-cheek predictions envisioned that sales of sherry and real ale would boom while bottles of WKD and craft beer would gather dust

Tongue-in-cheek predictions of such a scenario envisioned that sales of sherry and real ale would boom while bottles of WKD and craft beer would gather dust. 

Comedian Arthur Smith today conjured up a scene in the fictional Two Jab Arms where only those who have received both vaccine shots are allowed.

His sketch aired on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme wound back the clock to a time where ‘crisps come with little packets of salt’ and not one customer ‘has their own podcast’.

And drinkers would ‘compare notes on what our Dads did in the War and reminisce of the three-day week’.

Social media users also piled in, and said it would herald the return of better music.  

One said: ‘I live in a uni town so us oldie locals could reclaim our pubs.’

Another said: ‘No more pub quiz questions about celebrities and musicians I’ve never heard of.’  

 

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