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2 February 2021, 15:40 | Updated: 2 February 2021, 15:46
As we near the mid-point of the third national Coronavirus lockdown and the UK's vaccination programme gathers speed, we are all wondering when the rules around pubs and restaurants will be relaxed.
Boris Johnson forced pubs and restaurants to close - and forbid them to offer takeaway alcohol orders - when he announced the UK's third lockdown on January 4th.
And according to one Government source, they won't reopen until at least four months later, with the Prime Minister eyeing the first May Bank Holiday weekend as the earliest date Brits can go out to eat and drink again.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, one Government insider said: “The May Day Bank Holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.”
While nothing specific has been said about restaurants, they come under the "hospitality" sector with pubs so it is likely the same rules will apply to them.
The pub industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with some not able to reopen when the first lot of restrictions were lifted in March as they did not have the space to allow for social distancing of customers and staff, or could not afford PPE and to make the necessary changes to make the boozers covid secure.
The latest lockdown, which came after several tough months of Tier 3 and 4 restrictions which prevented pubs and restaurants functioning as normal, banned alcohol delivery and takeaway orders from pubs and restaurants, which had helped some business stay afloat and keep people employed.
There are fears that many pubs and restaurants will not open once the latest restrictions are lifted.
Speaking to Square Meal, Will Bowlby, who owns and runs Indian restaurant Kricket, said that a May opening is “a devastating prospect" for restauranteurs and pub landlords.
He said: "The longer the restaurants are shut, the more casualties there will be. This potential extension will only cripple further businesses that are already skating on thin ice."
Speaking to The Mirror, pub group Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “The pub sector has been closed for much of the last nine months and remains in a very difficult position.
"Regrettably there have been casualties across the sector and it is vital that the government reviews urgently the opportunity to continue to support pubs as we reopen the economy in the coming weeks.
“Pubs are viable businesses which are part of the social fabric of Britain and which make a major contribution to the economy and the communities in which they serve.
“It is vital that they not only survive the short-term crisis but are supported in order to recover and flourish. Extending the business rates holiday and VAT cut for the rest of this year is a minimum requirement.”