Beer gardens to reopen from 12 April and indoor dining from 17 May

Vaccine has ‘dramatically changed odds in our favour’, prime minister says

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 22 February 2021 16:28
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Boris Johnson announces when beer gardens and indoor dining will return

Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve outdoor meals and drinks no earlier than 12 April but will have to wait another month to do the same indoors, as ministers strive to keep the Covid-19 virus under control.

Even outside hospitality venues strict rules will apply, with a maximum of six people or two households allowed to mingle.

But ministers have scrapped the controversial 10pm curfew that applied when pubs re-opened last year.

Also dropped is the requirement to have a ‘substantial’ meal with a drink, which led to farcical questions about the dietary merits of scotch eggs.

Ministers are understood to want to simplify the rules this time around, having listened closely to concerns last year.

They also want to ensure the hospitality sector, which employs large amounts of young people and those on lower incomes, can re-open as soon as possible.

Under the new roadmap outlined by Boris Johnson customers will be allowed to sit inside pubs and restaurants no earlier than 17 May, when the two household/ rule of six will continue to apply.

Other venues due to open on 12 April include non-essential retail, hairdressers, salons and attractions like zoos. Gyms will also open, although with no indoor mixing allowed.

Self-contained holiday accommodation will also be allowed to reopen, while funerals can have up to 30 mourners and weddings up to 15 guests.

The next stage, due to happen no earlier than 17 May, will see Hotels and B&Bs open and gatherings of up to 30 people allowed.

Cinemas and indoor children’s play areas will also open, and gym exercise classes permitted.

Weddings will be allowed up to 30 guests.

Some large sporting venues will be allowed to permit up to 10,000 spectators, as long as the stadium remains no more than a quarter full.

Mr Johnson warned that any lifting of lockdown would lead to “more deaths”.

That was inevitable, he said, as there would always be those who were vulnerable to the disease. But he promised his roadmap was both “cautious” and “irreversible”, amid fears the public will not forgive ministers for another lockdown.

Mr Johnson defended the dates outlined for the hospitality sector, one of those worst hit by the economic cost of the virus, saying it was a plan that “can work”.

He suggested businesses were prepared to swap haste for certainty “and that is what we aim to give”.

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