Pubs set to pull 3mln pints on ‘Freedom Monday’

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Ministers today said there would no reverse of plans to open indoor pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues on Monday.

Concerns had been rising that a spate of instances of the so-called Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus might prompt the government to backtrack.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, today though said that the four tests to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen indoors on 17 May had been met allowing the country to move to the next stage on the reopening roadmap.

Zahawi today though would not confirm if the June 21 deadline for all restrictions to be lifted would be changed if cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 continued to rise.

Trade body the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said that it expects 45,000 pubs to open their doors on 17 May and serve 3mln pints.

Social distancing rules will still be in force and customers will have to keep to a distance of one metre while service will table only and face masks be worn if people are not sat at a table or outside.

The BBPA added that 2,000 pubs, 5% of the total, that rely heavily on people standing up when drinking will not be able to open and even if 3mln pints are sold that will still be 65% lower than an average Monday pre-the pandemic.

Emma McClarkin, BBPA chief executive, added: “The countdown to freedom, and recovery, is on.”

“After some questionable weather during the last week or so, we know Brits are looking forward to being back inside the pub once more.”

McClarkin added that for the sector to recover fully it needed all pubs to reopen fully on June 21 in line with the government’s roadmap.

However, a report from finance group Company Debt suggested that it will need everyone in Britain to drinks 124 pints or 122 glasses of wine to help the sector recover the £25.6bn the industry has lost so far to the pandemic.

Alternatively, people (or non-drinkers) could eat 976 packets of crisps or have 40 roast meals each.

Shares in JD Wetherspoon PLC (LONL:JDW) rose by 0.5% to 1,333p and Mitchells & Butlers by 0.8% to 331.6p.

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