UK lockdown: Some pubs in England could open from 4 July at earliest, says Raab

Further confusion over whether it will be possible to meet both parents from a different household in a park – or just one

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 11 May 2020 08:48
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Some pubs in England could open from 4 July at earliest, says Raab

Some pubs in England could reopen as early as July if they can keep drinkers apart, Dominic Raab has said.

The tentative plan to allow cafes and restaurants to reopen in the third phase of the lockdown easing could also include pubs, the foreign secretary suggested for the first time.

Told publicans would “go under” otherwise, Mr Raab said: “You are absolutely right.”

And he told Sky News: “Starting from 4 July at the very earliest, those are the sectors that are inherently more difficult because people are mixing together and it is difficult to maintain social distancing.”

Mr Raab also sparked further confusion about the controversial instruction for staff to return to work from today if possible – saying it would now come in on Wednesday.

He also referred only to people working “in construction and manufacturing” returning, with guidance to be published later on creating secure workplaces.

One of the biggest overnight criticisms of Boris Johnson’s TV address was that it gave workers only 12 hours to potentially prepare to return, with public transport largely shut down.

On Sunday night, the prime minister said: “We will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”

However, it had been suggested that pubs would be excluded from the plan – which was, in any case, “subject to further scientific advice” and coronavirus cases continuing to fall.

In a series of confusing interviews, Mr Raab also contradicted Downing Street by saying somebody would now be allowed to meet both their parents in a park, provided they stayed two metres apart.

On Sunday, aides said the relaxation would only apply to one other person from a different household – potentially requiring people to pick a parent to meet.

But Mr Raab warned people would not be allowed to play football under the relaxed restrictions, telling BBC Breakfast: “No, I don't think so, because you can't stay two metres apart.

“Two people from the same home could go and play tennis, because that's something where they could stay two metres apart from everyone else.

“What you couldn't then do, and this is why we say you've got to stay alert, you couldn't then go into the clubhouse and mill around where you will be within two metres of other people.”

Labour continued to criticise the chaotic messages being sent out to worried workers. Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said: “People should be able to work in safety.

“People shouldn't be in the uncertain position that they are today. Certainty helps workers, it helps employers. And that's what the government should actually be providing.”

Mr Raab ducked repeated questions about whether workers had the right to walk out if they believed they were in unsafe conditions, saying: “It’s very difficult to answer that.”

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