If you were looking forward to popping into your local and having a cheeky pint when the pubs reopen next month think again – you may have to make an appointment.
The Government has warned that drinkers may not be able to just turn up and order at the bar – they could have to book in advance or order by app.
The Mirror has reported that “registering” to drink at your local is one of the measures Health Secretary Matt Hancock is looking at ahead of the next stage of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
It is widely expected that the Government will announce soon that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers could reopen from July 4. The reducition of the social distancing rule from 2 metres to 1 metre is also expected,
But Mr Hancock warned that anyone returning to a pub will find it very different to how it was pre-lockdown.
Asked on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme whether drinkers will need to register before going to the pub, and order using an app, Mr Hancock said: “That is the sort of thing that we are looking at for how do you make it safe to open things… I wouldn’t rule it out.”
The step – previously taken in countries such as New Zealand – would allow for easier tracing of customers if someone who went to the venue is found to have been infected.
Mr Hancock would not confirm that the next stage of the lockdown would end on July 4 – but said the UK was “on plan”. And he insisted that the Government has a “clear plan for how we get out of the worst parts of lockdown safely”.
Asked if hairdressers will be able to reopen from 4 July, Matt Hancock said: “I’m not going to rule that out. We’ll set out the details as soon as we can.”
Another sector anxiously waiting for the go ahead to reopen is the UK’s holiday industry. It is understood that the Government will also announce that hotels and bed and breakfasts can welcome back customers next month. But campsites are likely to have to wait longer.
MPs and tourism bosses have been calling for clarity over when bookings can be accepted again, and how the hospitality sector will operate post-lockdown.
Patricia Yates, the chief executive of Visit Britain, said: “We need to know what the plan is. The lack of Government guidelines and that uncertainty around the date is causing a great deal of consternation within the industry.”
The body estimates that the tourism sector, which accounts for three million jobs, will be hit with losses of up to £42 billion this year because of coronavirus.
The threat posed by Covid-19 was downgraded from Level 4 to 3 on Friday, after scientists confirmed that the outbreak is reducing by four per cent each day.
The UK’s official coronavirus death toll increased by 128 today, the lowest increase on a Saturday during the lockdown. It brings the country’s official death toll to 42,461 – the third-highest total in the world behind the US and Brazil.