Boris Johnson was today urged to commit to the May 17 date for reopening pubs and restaurants indoors – as a minister warned decisions cannot be made yet.
In a letter to the PM, chief executives from big chains including JD Wetherspoon, Young’s, Greene King and Pizza Hut called for the roadmap to go ahead – with restrictions fully lifted from June 21.
Mr Johnson has insisted that he sees nothing in the data to suggest the schedule will need to change. Environment Secretary George Eustice said it is still ‘too early to say’ whether the loosening can go ahead next month.
Last week pubs and restaurants reopened in England for outdoor hospitality, but the 38 signatories to the letter warned around two-thirds were not able to do so and ‘none is breaking even’.
The letter reads: ‘We must be driven by data not dates – and the data say it is safe to confirm now the reopening of indoor hospitality on May 17 and the lifting of all social-distancing restrictions on hospitality on June 21.
Last week pubs and restaurants reopened in England for outdoor hospitality. Pictured, people enjoying the sunshine in Cambridge
Boris Johnson was today urged to commit to the May 17 date for reopening pubs and restaurants indoors
‘This is vital as Government support for hospitality tapers away then, and without it many businesses will be unviable.
‘The Prime Minister set out the right path. He should stick to it and not let it be derailed by talk of vaccine passports in pubs and restaurants.
It comes as He said: ‘But I think we are on track in the sense that we are on track with the rollout of the vaccination programme.’
Mr Eustice said the impact of the recent easing of restrictions would be assessed ‘before moving to the next stage’.
It follows an ongoing row over the potential introduction of Covid health certificates, or so-called vaccine passports, which could be used to access public settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events, and might also be used in pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission warned last week that coronavirus status certificates could create a ‘two-tier society’ which discriminates against certain groups.
The government has confirmed that Covid passports will not be used in trials of major events at stadiums – with Tory rebels believing they might have succeeded in heading off the wider plans.
A Government spokeswoman said: ‘We are continuing to make good progress in tackling the virus, with case rates and hospitalisations down and more than 42 million vaccine doses have been administered.
‘But we cannot be complacent or lose sight of the risks this virus poses.
‘That is why we must continue to take a cautious and irreversible approach to reopening and monitor the data ahead of each step of the road map.
‘We are doing everything we can to back hospitality as it prepares to reopen, including offering pubs restart grants worth up to £18,000 – part of our much wider £352billion support package.’
Environment Secretary George Eustice said it is still ‘too early to say’ whether the loosening can go ahead next month