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When will the pubs re-open?

Pubs will officially re-open on the 12th April, to serve customers sitting outdoors. Here’s our quick guide to pubs re-opening.

  • 12 April. Pub gardens and restaurants are allowed to open, and serve customers sitting outdoors. Alcohol can be served, and you can meet in a group of up to six people from different households. Alternatively, you can meet in a maximum of two households, to form a group of any number.

  • 17 May. Pubs will be able to seat and serve customers indoors. You can meet indoors in a group of up to six people from different households. Alternatively, you can meet inside in a maximum of two households, to form a group of any number. You can also sit and be served outside in pub gardens, in a group of up to 30.

  • 21 June – All restrictions on pubs should be lifted! However, you may still have to obey social distancing rules, for example, keeping a 1metre distancing from those who aren’t in your household, and wearing a face covering.


When did the pubs close?

Pubs have sadly closed several times over the past year, due to multiple national lockdowns. Let’s look at the timeline of pubs closing, which, let’s face it is a pretty depressing sight!

March 20th 2020

March 2020 – the month that became an era. We all sat, dumbfounded, on our sofas, listening to Boris Johnson listing the new restrictions to control the Covid-19 pandemic. No school, no going into work, no going to non-essential shops, no going to the pub… wait, what was that? Surely not! No, you heard him right. Boris himself said:

“I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary: we’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that”

As necessary as the restrictions were at the time, we cannot wait to get out and enjoy a pint in our local boozer again.

November 5th 2020

November 5th – Guy Fawkes Night, or as it is now known, The Day The Pubs Closed for A Second Time in Britain, unless you were living in the North and already dealing with tier restrictions, in which case the pubs have probably closed more times than you can count.

We were all super excited when the second lockdown in November was lifted, but few of us escaped the heavy hand of the tier system. Apart from a few lucky ones who got to stay in tier 2 and even 1 (Herefordshire, we were so jealous), most of us were stuck in tier 2, 3 and even 4 the closer we got to Christmas, which meant pubs in these areas were only open for takeaway food and non-alcoholic drinks. Unsurprisingly, people weren’t beating a path to their door (or food delivery app).

5th January 2021

We all saw it coming, but we didn’t want to believe it. On the 5th January 2021, Boris Johnson once again announced a national lockdown, including the closure of the pubs. Now that the government has announced a roadmap out of lockdown, all that’s left to do is stare at our phones/watches, counting down the minutes until the pub re-opens.


How many pubs went out of business?

In all seriousness, the pandemic and the several lockdowns to contain the impact of Covid-19 in the UK took a massive bite out of the food, drink and hospitality industry, including the pub sector.

According to British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin1, at least 5% of pubs in the country have closed due to the Coronavirus crisis. Tom Kerridge, who is a celebrity chef and pub owner and operator, said that this 5% equalled about 2,500 pubs.

That’s thousands of livelihoods and businesses lost due to Covid-19, not to mention the destruction of pubs that have been the hub of social contact, friendships and support in towns and villages.


What will the new rules be once the pubs re-open?

When pubs re-open, they will very likely have the same Covid-19 protection measures as before, at least until June 21st, if not for longer. These are:

  • All staff and customers in pubs must wear a face covering (for example, a mask) that covers the nose and mouth, unless they have an exemption. It is not acceptable to abuse, harass or deny entry to someone who isn’t wearing a mask due to an exemption.

  • All pubs must remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required (for example, via posters). You may be required to wear a face mask at any time while inside the pub, except for when you are seated at your table.

  • Pubs are required to keep groups of customers apart, in order to obey social distancing requirements. Pubs can space out tables so that they are the required distance apart, use barriers such as plastic dividers between tables and groups, and limit the number of customers in the pub at any one time.

  • Avoid too cross-contact touch and contamination between staff and customers. This means avoiding situations where customers collect their own cutlery and condiments. Many pubs, for example Weatherspoons, have introduced a table-service app, where you can order your food remotely, decreasing risk of contamination.

  • Pubs must take part in the NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of their customers, visitors and staff for 21 days. You may be asked to fill in contact details on an NHS track and trace slip when you enter the pub, or use the NHS track and trace app if you have it.

  • Pubs will likely provide hand sanitiser and ask you to use it. Make sure you bring your own hand sanitiser, and wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap if you use the bathroom.

  • Pubs will be required to clean more often, especially high-touch surfaces such as bar counters and pub tables. Pubs must also make sure the venue is properly ventilated, as this helps curb the risk of Covid-19.


The substantial meal rule, which originally said pubs could only remain open and serve alcohol if they also served it with a substantial meal, are set to be scrapped when pubs re-open. This will be a relief to many who followed the increasingly confusingly debates between journalists and Matt Hancock about whether a scotch egg qualified as a substantial meal.


When will we be able to go to the pub with people outside our household?’

The golden question! Going to the pub is great, but going with someone else (not in the household you’ve been cooped up in for the last twelve months) is so much better. Meeting someone outside your home in the pub is even more important if you’ve been locked down alone.

You’ll be able to be served outside in a pub garden with up to 5 people from different households on the 12th April – this is called ‘the rule of six’. You can be seated and served inside a pub with up to five people from different households from the 17th May.


Alcohol agenda

Here’s the all-important timeline, of when you can drink socially again.

  • 8th March. You can have a drink in an outside space such as a park with one friend (no pubs open yet).
  • 29th March. You can have a drink outside with five friends (rule of six) or within two households of any size (no pubs open yet).
  • 12 April. Pubs re-open for outdoors serving. Rule of 6 outside, for example, in pub gardens.
  • Rule of 6 in pubs indoors, up to 30 in pub gardens and outdoors.
  • 21 June – PARTY TIME! (All restrictions should be lifted in pubs)