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Pubs cannot open before 6am on Saturday July 4, Downing Street has warned amid fears coronavirus “independence day” could spark midnight parties.
Boris Johnson announced last month that people will finally be able to go to their local pub for a pint as lockdown measures will be eased in England this weekend.
But new last-minute guidance to be published on Friday will warn establishments cannot throw open their doors at midnight.
It comes amid concern landlords are planning late night parties to mark the lifting of restrictions.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said pubs should stick to the 6am limit, adding: “It’s a sensible precaution, just to stress that pubs should not open at midnight and that the reopening date should be on the daytime of July 4.”
During an interview with LBC earlier on Friday, the PM urged Brits not to “blow it” as lockdown measures are lifted, amid fears a second wave of the disease could be on the horizon.
He was also asked why restrictions on going to the pub will be lifted on a Saturday, which typically sees a higher rate of alcohol-related issues for police and the NHS.
Johnson said: “We thought about this carefully and I think we wanted to give pubs time to prepare, we wanted a date early in July and when I look at what is happening I hope very much that people will behave responsibly and enjoy summer safely.
“I hope this will be a reasonable time for people to get ready to enjoy themselves in the weekend but to do it in a safe way.”
When pressed by host Nick Ferrari on why Saturday was chosen rather than Monday and whether he only “hoped” it would be safe, Johnson added: “It’s not on hope, it’s based on a clear understanding of the statistical risks that we now face as a country.
“We’ve progressed thanks to the efforts of the British people from an incidence of the disease at about one in 400 a few weeks ago to maybe one in 2,200 today. You’re appreciably less likely now to be in close proximity to someone who has it than you were even a couple of weeks ago.
“We’re making progress, we aimed for July the 4th, we wanted to set ourselves a target, we think we’re in good shape but my message is let’s not blow it.”
Downing Street has said the coronavirus regulations will not limit the amount of time people can spend in pubs and restaurants.
It comes after some police chiefs said they will cap the amount of time people spend in a bar to two hours.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “It’s not part of the regulations, as I understand it.
“Pubs, and restaurants in particular, as I’m sure lots of us will know, do sometimes put limits on the amount of time you can have a table for, for example.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.