Britons will be back basking in a mini-heatwave next week as pub gardens are finally set to reopen – but only if you’ve managed to grab a seat.
Pub-goers will be able to return to their favourite local for the first time in months from Monday as the country enters its second phase of lockdown easing, with some pubs throwing open their doors at a minute past midnight.
And forecasters are predicting a dramatic improvement in the weather to help with outdoor seating arrangements, with temperatures set to hit 53F from Monday before jumping up to 60F by Thursday.
The good news comes after a final winter blast this week plunge temperatures below freezing in some places and even brought a scattering of snow.
But with millions of Brits planning a trip to the pub from April 12, new data has shown three quarters of adults have struggled to book a seat at their favourite local.
Research by TV channel Dave found that on fifth (21 per cent) of adults actually made a pub booking while Boris Johnson was announcing his lockdown exit roadmap on live TV.
Pub-goers will be able to return to their favourite local for the first time in months from Monday as the country enters its second phase of lockdown easing, with some pubs throwing open their doors at a minute past midnight. Pictured: A staff member wipes down tables at the The Fox on the Hill pub in Camberwell, London
Research by TV channel Dave found that on fifth (21 per cent) of adults actually made a pub booking while Boris Johnson was announcing his lockdown exit roadmap on live TV
The White Horse receives a delivery of beers and food ahead of reopening on April 12
And forecasters are predicting a dramatic improvement in the weather to help with outdoor seating arrangements, with temperatures set to hit 53F from Monday before jumping up to 60F by Thursday
The good news comes after a final winter blast this week plunge temperatures below freezing in some places and even brought a scattering of snow
And in a desperate dash to secure spaces, people admitted making eight bookings on average per person at four different pubs, with a third (32 per cent) of people admitting that they would travel over an hour just for a pint.
The most pint-parched city was Coventry, with 37 per cent of people admitting they had made a booking during the lockdown announcement.
However, it was residents of Belfast who are most likely to be seen down the pub on the very first day it opens, as 26 per cent said they’ll be down their local at the earliest point possible.
Unfortunately for people in Northern Ireland, Stormont is yet to announce its plans for when pubs will be able to reopen.
From next week, amended Government rules will allow pubs and restaurants to reopen to serve customers in beer gardens or other outdoor serving areas – following months of complete shutdown for the sector.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said while 75 per cent of UK pubs have a beer garden or outside space, they estimated that only around 15,000 pubs, or 40 per cent, will reopen as they will have an area large enough.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said while 75 per cent of UK pubs have a beer garden or outside space, they estimated that only around 15,000 pubs, or 40 per cent, will reopen as they will have an area large enough
Jason Kalen, who runs The Marlborough in Wiltshire, has spent £50,000 on a chalet for outside dining only to be told a week before opening it contravenes Covid-19 rules.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘We welcome the great news that our pubs can reopen once more for outdoor service from April 12th’
‘We expect 40% of pubs, some 15,000 in England, to reopen from April 12th. Those that do open have invested a lot in ensuring customers are both comfortable and safe, making the most of the pub beer garden,’ she added
There is however a legal loophole whereby even pubs without gardens can fling open their doors to customers next week, with some converting their car parks into outdoor seating areas.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘We welcome the great news that our pubs can reopen once more for outdoor service from April 12th.
‘That first pint back in the beer garden is going to be a special moment. People across the country have been looking forward to it for months.
‘We expect 40% of pubs, some 15,000 in England, to reopen from April 12th. Those that do open have invested a lot in ensuring customers are both comfortable and safe, making the most of the pub beer garden.
‘But we should remember that those opening will be loss making with the ability to trade beyond break even coming with the removal of all restrictions.
‘With so many pubs still not opening though, it’s crucial the Government sticks to its roadmap and allows pubs to reopen indoors from May 17th and without any restrictions at all from June 21st. That is the only way our pubs can trade viably and begin to fully recover.’
As well as pubs, non-essential shops, hairdressers and theme parks are all allowed to reopen in England on Monday.
Pub landlord is ordered not to use his £50,000 chalet with pizza oven, TV and fitted bar that he built for outdoor dining because it breaks Covid rules
ByRory Tingle For Mailonline
A pub landlord has been ordered not to use his £50,000 chalet with a bar, pizza oven and TV to house outdoor diners because it breaks Covid rules.
Jason Kalen, who runs The Marlborough in Wiltshire, claimed the structure was safe because it had a one-inch gap in the ceiling for ventilation.
However, council officials pointed out that it broke established rules requiring at least 50% of the walls to be open to the outside.
Therefore, he has been told he cannot use the structure until punters are allowed to host people inside again on May 17.
Jason Kalen, who runs The Marlborough in Wiltshire, was furious at receiving an email a week before the venue’s reopening on Monday to say that using the new chalet would be against the law.
Despite the structure clearly contravening official guidance, Mr Kalen believes he should have been warned earlier.
He said: ‘To receive this email just five days before was heartbreaking. It’s not just going to affect me, nearly almost pub has a marquee in the garden now.
‘Drinking pubs are over, if you don’t serve food your business doesn’t work. But nobody is going to want to sit outside in this weather.’
Mr Kalen, who began building the structure during the first lockdown last year, said he had been ‘working with the council’ to ensure the building met specifications.
He said: ‘We made sure that every table is two metres apart, that there is an air flow throughout the entire building thanks to the breathable roof, and we fitted a much bigger entrance.
‘I ordered all my beer yesterday but now some of that probably can’t be used. I’m currently losing £5,000 a month as it is.’
The landlord said he would wait until May 17 – when indoor hospitality is set to be allowed – to use the space.
‘I’m not going to break any laws, I will follow all protocols, I will just have to delay using it,’ he said.
A council spokesman said: ‘Following confirmation by the government on Monday night that we will definitely be moving to step 2 of the roadmap on 12 April 2021, we emailed over 800 alcohol licensed premises in Wiltshire with guidance on outdoor hospitality.
‘This guidance is not new – it is the same as the guidance issued previously, following the last re-opening just prior to Christmas which was covered by the ‘all tiers’ regulations.
‘It is based on the legal rules for smoking shelters in the smokefree legislation from 2007 which licensees will be very familiar with.
‘This should not come as any surprise to the hospitality industry – we received numerous complaints about outdoor seating areas becoming very enclosed during the last re-opening period prior to Christmas.’
The chalet, which has a bar, TV and a pizza oven, has a one-inch gap in the roof to allow fresh air inside but does not meet requirements for at least 50% of the walls to be open to the outside
It comes as industry figures warned drinkers to take cash to the pub when they reopen for outdoor drinking due to ‘control freak’ government rules banning the taking of payments inside.
Landlords fear that patchy rural broadband and mobile signal means that card machines will be difficult to use in pub gardens, creating the prospect of punters not being able to legally pay for pints.
Meanwhile, some pubs have licensing restrictions that prevent the taking of payments outdoors – leaving them caught in a net of contradicting regulations with no way to open.
Landlords fear that patchy rural broadband and mobile signal means that card machines will be difficult to use in pub gardens
Ministers are looking at changing the rules before Monday so that payments can be taken inside as a ‘last resort’ when card payment ‘isn’t an option’, according to an internal memo seen by the Telegraph.
But drinkers are being urged to consider taking cash anyway so they do not need to leave their tables to pay.
JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said the new rules showed the Government had ‘lost the plot with its control freakery’.
‘Publicans will have to jump through fiery hoops yet again to comply with this daftness,’ he said.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of the industry body UKHospitality, said: ‘Be reassured that we will look after you well, and we will process payments.
‘But people need to remember their phone in order to check in for Test and Trace, and they need to remember a mask for walking through into the beer gardens, as well as some cash.’
It may be wise to bring cash to pubs, industry bosses have said
It came as Boris Johnson vowed not to introduce controversial vaccine passports before May 17, when indoor hospitality can resume.
Pub bosses have criticised the plans, which they say would cause an unnecessary burden on their staff, while they have been described as ‘un-British’ by civil liberties campaigners.
The PM told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that the Government was still ‘some way off finalising any plans’ for certification.
The so-called passports are expected to show whether someone had received a vaccine, had a negative coronavirus test or had contracted and recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months.
Mr Johnson said: ‘On Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everybody listening and watching is there’s absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdressers or whatever on Monday.
‘And indeed we are not planning that for stage three either, May 17 as you know we are hoping to go for the opening up of indoor hospitality and so on.
‘We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.’
However, Mr Johnson did hint that the certification scheme could be used for some pilot events involving large numbers of people over the coming weeks.
‘Obviously we are looking at it (Covid certification),’ he said.
‘We want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events. Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15, that kind of thing.
‘Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.’
JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said the new rules banning outdoor payment showed the Government had ‘lost the plot with its control freakery’
Mr Johnson’s comments came as the Government published the latest findings from its reviews of Covid status certification – so-called ‘vaccine passports’ – and international travel.
The review suggested a certification scheme could have an ‘important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure’ – but Mr Johnson faces opposition from MPs on both sides of the Commons who are concerned about the civil liberties implications.
Asked if the vaccine passports were ‘un-British’, Mr Johnson said: ‘The principle of requiring some people to have a certificate to prove they are not passing on the disease, like surgeons who have to prove they are vaccinated against hep B or whatever, that can be a sensible one.
‘But I want to stress that we are some way off finalising any plans for Covid certification in the UK.’
MailOnline has contacted Wiltshire Council for comment.