Top UK medic gives update on pubs reopening – but customers could face ‘alcohol ration’

People will have to carefully consider how they travel to outdoor spaces as lockdown restrictions are eased - and should preferably avoid a pub visit on the way, one of the UK's top medics has said.

Sunday, 3rd May 2020, 8:41 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd May 2020, 8:42 pm

While being outside - where the virus does not survive as long - is generally safer, people's actions and how they get to their destination will be important, England's deputy chief medical officer said.

Acknowledging lots of people are keen to get back to the pub, Dr Jenny Harries said that not going is the best way to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19.

She and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick were asked at the daily Downing Street briefing whether mass gatherings would likely be allowed to resume before pubs are permitted to reopen.

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Pubs in Sheffield

Mr Jenrick said the fact that the virus's rate of transmission is "significantly less" outdoors will be a factor to be considered in any easing of the lockdown.

But he said adding in public transport makes it "a more complex picture".

Dr Harries said mixing with friends and others outside your household in a small environment like a pub would not be a good idea.

She explained: "If you go as a family unit and sit in one place and you've got the same exposure there that you would in your house at home, that's probably quite a safe environment.

"If you go with a whole load of friends that you haven't seen from before the coronavirus lockdown, sit in a pub in a very small environment, lean well over each other on the table and stay there for some hours face-to-face, that's really not a good thing to do."

She said another potentially high-risk activity is people travelling in cars with others outside their family unit.

Dr Harries added: "'Don't go to the pub on the way' is probably the one to reduce your risk, although I recognise that everybody is wanting to do that."

Pubs will be braced for large swathes of people eager to visit their locals when they reopen again.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "At this stage it is difficult to say when pubs are expected to reopen and what the future of the pub looks like. We are looking to the Government to provide us more detail on when pubs can go back to business and how they will be able to operate.

"Our members take the safety of their staff very seriously, when pubs reopen our members will be considering as a matter of the highest priority how to keep staff and customers safe while maintaining the pub experience."

It has also been reported that pub landlords may be asked to ration alcohol after the coronavirus lockdown, with a two or three pint limit for customers.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism has also launched an urgent inquiry into how the sectors could reopen.