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PUBS will be able to serve food and drink to customers sat in beer gardens from mid-April under plans to ease England out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister revealed his roadmap for unlocking the country from the coronavirus shutdown last month.
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Brits could be sipping pints in beer gardens by mid-AprilCredit: Alamy
The first part of the four-step plan was put into action today (March 8), with kids returning to classrooms.
Two people from different households will also be able to meet outside from today.
Three weeks later, on March 29, the “Rule of Six” will return to parks and private gardens — allowing six people from up to six different households to mix outdoors.
It will be mid-April before pubs and restaurants can reopen – and then it will only be outdoor service.
Here, we take you through everything we know so far.
Leaving lockdown will happen in four stages
When will beer gardens reopen?
Outdoor drinking in pub beer gardens will be back on the cards from April 12.
Like before, pubs and restaurants will have to offer table service and face masks must be worn by staff and customers when not sat at a table.
Pubs will also be allowed to offer takeaway pints, something which was banned during lockdown.
The Rule of Six is being brought back, which means six people from up to six households will be able to sit together outdoors.
Alternatively, two households will be allowed to meet.
You can check reopening plans for pubs – and restaurants – in our round-up here.
Brits rushed to book tables after Mr Johnson unveiled his roadmap out of lockdown.
Some establishments have already started accepting bookings for the provisional dates and punters are snapping them up.
Burger chain Byron is among the businesses that has confirmed it will reopen 17 branches for outdoor bookings from April.
It said it has already seen a surge in bookings following the PM’s announcement.
But Mr Johnson insisted that the timeline for businesses to reopen relies heavily on the “four steps to freedom“.
These include the vaccine roll out continuing as planned and evidence that the jabs are effective at reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
Infection rates must not overwhelm the NHS and as long as new variants are not a threat, then unlocking the country can go ahead as planned.
However, pub bosses have blasted an outdoor-only drinking plan and demanded the return of inside drinking.
Industry leaders have backed demands for lockdown restrictions to be fully lifted by the end of April, when most over-50s are expected to have been vaccinated.
Patrick Dardis, chief executive of the Young’s pubs chain, said that spring rain would make the outdoors-only idea unworkable and slammed it as “nonsense”.
Meanwhile, Tim Martin, chairman of pubs giant JD Wetherspoon, said the decision had been made by “ministers with no experience of business, or empathy for business”.
When will pubs open for indoor drinking?
Assuming everything has gone to plan, pubs will be able to welcome punters inside for the first time in months from May 17.
It will be a relief for boozers and drinkers who’ve not been able to sip on a pub pint since England was plunged into a third national lockdown on January 4.
In areas that were placed into Tier 4 shortly after the second lockdown, the hospitality industry has been closed for even longer.
From mid-May, customers will be able to sit inside but pubs must continue to offer table service.
When sitting inside a pub, the rule of six, or two households mixing, will also apply.
You’ll also be able to enjoy a cheaper pint when pubs reopen.
The Chancellor froze tax on alcohol for the second year in a row in his Budget last week in a bid to boost pub sales for struggling boozers.
Alcohol prices usually rise each year in the Budget in line with RPI inflation, which is currently 0.7%, unless the government freezes or cuts it.
What will the rules be when pubs reopen?
On top of the rules outlined above, the Government says businesses need to be Covid-secure before reopening.
This includes social distancing, staff and customers wearing a face mask when they’re not a their table and reducing the number of people inside as one time.
Patrick Mahoney, landlord of The Winchester Arms, pours out-of-date beer down the drain in Taunton, February 18 2021Credit: Jake McPherson
What will pubs look like when they reopen?
Pubs must follow the government’s Covid-secure rules to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Businesses are advised to put up perspex “sneeze screens” between tables so customers can socially distance, although this isn’t a requirement.
In larger pubs, the tables will need to be rearranged so that they sit at least a metre away from the next one.
In places where you can order food, diners should be handed a paper menu that will be binned after it’s been used.
Napkins and cutlery should only be brought out to customers along with their grub to cut the risk of transmission.
Self-service buffets will be banned and waiters will have to wash their hands between serving different tables.
It is not clear whether bars and restaurants will have to keep a record of everyone who visits before being served to help track and trace coronavirus outbreaks.
Like other non-essential retailers, pubs will have to increase their cleaning regime.
Last year, Wetherspoons revealed early on what its pubs looked like with Covid secure measures.
Pubs were kitted out with screen, posters and floor markings to help demonstrate how Wetherspoons will reopen branches.
The Sun was also given a sneak peek inside a Greene King branch, Fort St George in Cambridge, to find out what it will be like.