While the warmer months usually mean long pub lunches and afternoon drinking sessions in the sunshine, visits to your local have been off the cards since 20 March when pubs closed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, shortly before the full UK lockdown came into effect.
However, Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday (23 June) that pubs and other parts of the hospitality industry have been given the green light to reopen from 4 July in England, as long as safety measures are in place.
Here's everything you need to know about pubs reopening, including when they will open their doors across the UK, and what your pub visits may look like going forward...
When will pubs reopen?
On 10 May, Boris Johnson revealed that some hospitality businesses, including pubs, food service providers and accommodation, could be allowed to offer services again "no earlier than 4 July".
On Tuesday, 23 June, Boris Johnson announced that pubs can indeed reopen from 4 July in England, as long as safety measures are in place.
This is part of step three of the government's roadmap to lifting lockdown restrictions, published on the official gov.uk website.
In order to reopen, pubs will need to ensure they can meet the government's 'COVID-19 Secure' guidelines, which includes maintaining social distancing. As a result, some smaller venues may find it difficult to reopen safely, or may not be able to offer a full service.
When do pubs reopen across the UK?
While the above policy applies to England, the devolved governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have released their own plans for easing lockdown, meaning that pubs may be allowed to open at different times across the UK.
When will pubs open in Scotland?
In Scotland, pubs were meant to be allowed to open outdoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines in place in phase two of the country's four-phase "route map" to ease restrictions, which was published on the gov.scot website.
However, when Scotland entered phase two on 19 June, Nicola Sturgeon explained that pub beer gardens would not reopen as originally planned, with no set date provided for when this may happen.
The "route map" also revealed that pubs in Scotland should be allowed to open indoor spaces with physical distancing and increased hygiene, in phase three. No set date has yet been given for the start of phase three in Scotland, however lockdown restrictions are reviewed every three weeks.
When will pubs open in Northern Ireland?
In Northern Ireland, the Stormont Executive confirmed on 15 June that pubs will be allowed to reopen from 3 July, the BBC reports, as long as the spread of the coronavirus remains low, and safety measures are in place, including maintaining social distancing.
When will pubs open in Wales?
Wales is using a "traffic light" system for lifting coronavirus lockdown restrictions, which has been detailed on the gov.wales website. The roadmap does not include a timeline, although pubs may reopen in the Green phase.
How will pubs change when they reopen?
Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday, 23 June, that pubs could reopen from 4 July in England, with safety measures in place. He revealed in his speech to Parliament that a "table service" system will be used indoors for pubs, among other measures.
The Prime Minister also added that venues will need to collect customers' names and details in case they need to be contacted through the government's test and trace programme in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.
What will pubs be like when they reopen?
The government has released guidelines on how pubs can help keep customers and staff safe when they reopen.
Proposed measures include:
Pubs should reconfigure indoor and outdoor seating and tables to maintain social distancing guidelines between customers of different households or support bubbles. For example, increasing the distance between tables.
Pubs to provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
Pubs should encourage customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue.
Pubs employees should maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) from customers when taking orders from customers.
Pubs should encourage use of contactless ordering from tables where available. For example, through an ordering app.
Ahead of the government's announcement and the release of official guidelines for reopening, pub chains had already begun preparing in order to ensure they could reopen once restrictions lift.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon, one of the largest in the UK, has already announced the steps it has taken to prepare for reopening, after undertaking an employee consultation, speaking to many of its suppliers and contractors, and referring to UK Hospitality guidelines.
Here are the steps the pub chain has already taken, many of which will likely be seen in pubs across the UK once they reopen...
Social distancing measures will result in the employment of two full-time members of staff per pub – or slightly more for bigger pubs – who will regularly clean surfaces and touch points, including door handles and card payment machines.
All of its pubs will have screens at the till point. There will also be screens to create seating areas where it is not possible to separate tables to the social distancing requirement.
Wetherspoon will provide gloves, masks and protective eyewear for employees. Employees can elect whether to wear them or not, subject to government guidelines.
There will be an average of ten hand sanitiser dispensers around each pub, including at the entrance, for customers and staff to use.
Every employee will need to complete and sign a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm that they are fit to work. This will include having their temperature taken using a digital thermometer.
Dedicated staff will monitor the pub at all times in order to maintain social distancing standards, and there will be a member of staff on the door at peak times.
The pubs will use one entrance with a separate exit door, where possible.
Customer entry and exit points will be marked out by floor stickers and/or barriers, and there will be clear, printed information providing guidance to customers as they enter the pubs.
Customers will be asked to use the Wetherspoon "order and pay" app, wherever possible, or pay at the bar using a credit/debit card and contactless, although cash will be accepted.
Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and, when ordered by the app, drinks will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass.
Food will be delivered to the table by a member of floor staff.
Pubs will offer a slightly reduced menu and will provide sachets (of ketchup, mayonnaise, salt and pepper etc.), rather than their usual condiment bottles.
JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said in a release, which was shared prior to the government's announcement on 4 July: "We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.
"We have received more than 2,500 suggestions from our staff. The safety of our staff and customers is paramount."
So, there you have it – an indication of what a visit to your local will look like when pubs officially reopen...
The above information is correct at the time of publishing. For the latest information, visit the gov.uk website.
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