East London pub welcomes customers outdoors as lockdown restrictions lift

When do pubs and restaurants open indoors?

Boris Johnson has approved phase two of the lockdown easing roadmap

Olivia Petter@oliviapetter1
Thursday 29 April 2021 17:29
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The second phase of the lockdown easing roadmap has gone ahead as planned on Monday 12 April, with a raft of new freedoms returning.

When Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap “to recovery” for England in February, one of the many things people were hoping to find out was when restaurants would reopen.

In his speech, the prime minister explained that lifting restrictions depends on four tests: the success of the vaccine deployment programme, evidence that vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations, confirmation that infection rates not surging, and that the assessment of these risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of the virus.

But what does all this mean for restaurants? Here’s everything you need to know.

When will restaurants reopen?

Restaurants, pubs, and cafes are now allowed to reopen for outdoor dining in England (from midnight on Sunday 11 April).

Customers must remain seated while ordering and eating their food, and the rule of six applies.

When customers are out of their seats - for example, to be shown to their table, they must wear face masks and obey social distancing.

In terms of indoor dining, Mr Johnson said that venues could begin to serve limited numbers of customers inside dining rooms no earlier than 17 May - though this will depend on how case numbers and the vaccination programme progress.

You are not permitted to eat indoors - this will return in the next phase of the road map in approximately five weeks time.

What have the experts said?

Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick and member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), said any form of reopening “could lead to higher risk”.

Asked what the effect of reopening may have on infection rates, he told Times Radio: “It’s hard to tell categorically but I think we do need to remember that with any form of reopening there’s going to be more mixing, and so we might expect that that could lead to higher risk.

“We might expect it could have a resurgence, it’s really, really important therefore that people follow the rules that are in place, with this relaxation.

“It is great news that people can get out and go to non-essential shops, and go to pubs and restaurants and so forth, but, as I say, follow the guidelines that is still in place.”

He added: “We should never say there can’t be any transmission if we follow those rules, what we’re doing is we’re trying to minimise the risk of transmission as much as possible.

“By taking these precautions there is never going to be zero risk - there’s always the possibility that even with those precautions you could get infected - but you’re minimising your own risk of being infected and also potentially passing the virus on.”

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