UK pubs and restaurants flooded with bookings for outdoor tables on 12 April when lockdown eases


Pubs and restaurants have seen a huge surge in bookings for outdoor tables ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased next month, according to research.

Hospitality website Caterer.com said millions of people were making reservations for the two weeks after April 12.

Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas from this date in the latest phase of the lockdown easing.

It comes after it emerged millions would be allowed to go to pubs with no social distancing under plans to let people use their phone to prove ‘Covid-safe’ status.

Caterer.com spokesman Neil Pattison said: ‘Hospitality businesses have been unfairly subjected to tighter restrictions than other sectors throughout the pandemic and our research shows just how eager people are to get back into hospitality venues.

‘As we’ve seen over the last year, businesses have gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of customers.

‘Many have remodelled to allow for more outdoor space enabling them to remain open within safety guidelines.’

Hospitality website Caterer.com said millions of people were making reservations for the two weeks after April 12. Pictured: Punters in Scotland in July

Hospitality website Caterer.com said millions of people were making reservations for the two weeks after April 12. Pictured: Punters in Scotland in July

Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas from April 12 in the latest phase of the lockdown easing. Pictured: London in July

Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers in outdoor seating areas from April 12 in the latest phase of the lockdown easing. Pictured: London in July

A survey of 2,000 adults showed a third believed the hospitality sector should be allowed to reopen indoors sooner than the planned date of May 17, said the report.

Just over half of respondents said hospitality venues have higher cleanliness and Covid-19 safety precautions than other industries and public spaces, such as supermarkets.

It emerged last night millions would be allowed to go to pubs with no social distancing under plans to let people use their phone to prove ‘Covid-safe’ status.

Drinkers would be able to use a mobile app to prove they had either had the vaccine, a recent negative test – or that they had antibodies from having the coronavirus before.

The app would provide a virtual ‘coronavirus certificate’ – probably featuring a scannable QR code – so they could gain entry to pubs, clubs and restaurants.

How a coronavirus vaccine passport for Britons could look

How a coronavirus vaccine passport for Britons could look 

As an incentive for asking customers to prove their covid-free status, venues taking part would be allowed to drop all rules on social distancing. However, for those relying on a negative test these certificates could be valid for as little as 24 hours.

Officials are looking to modify an existing NHS app that already gives patients access to parts of their medical records to facilitate the so-called ‘covid passports’ scheme.

The plans are being examined by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove as part of a major Government review into how ‘covid certificates’ could be used to reopen the economy as soon as possible.

But a ferocious backlash erupted last night over the growing prospect of covid pass-ports, with hospitality bosses branding the idea ‘unworkable, costly and discriminatory’.

Many were left furious by the idea of an additional administrative burden at a time when so many in the sector are struggling to survive.

Tory backbenchers raised privacy concerns, saying they were ‘horrified’ by the plans.

Boris Johnson promised yesterday to set out further details in the next three weeks, saying ‘I do think there is going to be a role for certification’.

A row over covid passports exploded yesterday after the Prime Minister revealed on Wednesday night that they may needed to go to the pub.

He confirmed ministers were looking at the idea and suggested that individual pub landlords may be allowed to deny entry to drinkers who could not prove they’d had a covid jab.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks up Downing Street in London yesterday morning with his red box before heading to a school in west London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks up Downing Street in London yesterday morning with his red box before heading to a school in west London

Where SHOULD vaccine passports be used? YouGov poll reveals more Britons want Covid IDs in place for entering gyms, pubs and cinemas than visiting GP

More Britons think vaccine passports should be brought in for people using gyms than those visiting hospitals or GP surgeries, a poll has found.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents want the certificates to be in place for those wanting to work out while only 43 per cent say they should be enforced at medical centres, the YouGov survey tweeted yesterday said.

Over half – nearly six in ten – said they would support the plans and more than a quarter – 28 per cent – said they would strongly back the idea.

But 34 per cent of the country said they were against the plans to use the system as the country edges closer to freedom on June 21.

The YouGov poll found a plan to bring in vaccine passports during the rollout was backed by voters – 64 per cent of Tory supporters, 60 per cent of Lib Dems and 55 per cent of Labour fans.

But those against the system are mainly among the younger generation who are less likely to have had their Covid jab yet.

In the 18 to 24-year-old category, the survey found 45 per cent were in favour, while 42 per cent were against. But this changed when asked if they would support it after everyone was jabbed, with the figures shifting to 60/27.

The wider public reacted similarly, with support swelling to seven in ten – just 20 per cent against – a vaccination scheme when everyone has been offered.

The figures do not vary much when Britons were asked if they backed the controversial idea of vaccine passports for those coming to the UK – with 65 per cent in favour but 35 per cent saying it could be ignored if they isolate.

The survey also broke down which activities people think should require some sort of Covid vaccination certificate once jabs have been offered to everyone. 

Two thirds of those asked – 72 per cent – said those wanting to see people in care homes should be forced to carry proof of immunisation.

But a surprise feature at the top of the list was gyms, which 56 per cent – more than half – said should only be open to people who are jabbed. The figure was the same for pubs and bars.

Slightly fewer people think the same for restaurants – 53 per cent – while just 44 per cent think proof of a jab should be required for coffee shops and only 33 per cent for beer gardens.

Meanwhile more than two in five asked in the YouGov poll believe a vaccine should be needed to be allowed to use public transport.

Supermarkets – 31 per cent – and garden centres – 29 per cent – are the places people are least likely to think jab passports should be required.

Those aged 65 and above tend to be the most in favour of public spaces using vaccine passports – 76 per cent of this group supports vaccine passports for pubs and bars, compared to 48 per cent of 18-24-year-olds.

While Britons are broadly in favour of a vaccine passport system, the public tends to want whatever system is put in place to be government-run.

Some 58 per cent are opposed to private companies being allowed to develop their own vaccine passport systems during the vaccine rollout. This figure drops to 49 per cent who would be opposed to private systems after it has finished, although even then only a third of Britons (35 per cent) would be in support.

However, yesterday the first details emerged about how Government ministers believe that such a scheme might operate.

The Mail understands that Government officials are looking to modify an existing NHS app that already gives patients access to parts of their medical records and the ability to book appointments with their GP to facilitate the system.

After downloading the app, people would be able to log in to get details of their corona-virus vaccination, a recent test showing they did not have the virus, or results of an antibody test showing they are immune as they had already had it.

People who had previously had the virus would need to have an antibody test to show they still had immunity.

This would remain valid for several weeks, so the person would not need such regular testing.

Once a person had one of these three, the phone app would give them a digital certificate that they could present at venues.

This would likely include a QR code that staff could scan to verify it was genuine, along with a picture of the person’s face.

People who do not have the app would be able to request a paper certificate, which will also likely include a QR code.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is conducting a review into how certificates potentially could be used.

The Government is yet to decide details such as how often someone who has not had the vaccine would need to get tested to get such a Covid certificate.

Under one option being considered a negative test result would only be valid for as little as 24 hours, meaning a person would face the need for daily testing if they wanted to go out regularly.

Ministers also are thinking about issues such as whether people would need to be super-vised when using lateral flow tests, which provide results in 30 minutes, rather than allowing them to be conducted at home so they cannot lie about the result.

Claims last night that people would need two negative lateral flow tests in three days to get a certificate were denied.

As well as being used by hospitality venues, such as pubs, clubs and restaurants, the certifi-cates could be required to attend large gatherings such as sports matches.

The Prime Minister yesterday insisted ‘no decisions have been taken at all’ and that he would say more on the issue early next month.

He also suggested that any scheme that ministers decide on may not start until every adult has been offered at least one jab.

He told reporters: ‘I do think there is going to be a role for certification… we’ll be reporting on the work of the certification group either on April 5 or April 12.

‘There are lots of difficult issues because there are some people who for medical reasons can’t get a vaccination, pregnant women can’t get a vaccination at the moment, you’ve got to be careful about how you do this.

‘You might only be able to implement a thorough-going vaccination passport scheme even if you wanted such a thing in the context of when absolutely everybody had been offered a vaccine.’

Ministers have insisted that their target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July will be met despite the European Union’s threat to control supplies from the continent.

Mr Johnson said yesterday that previous coronavirus infections could be a feature used if certificates are adopted.

‘There are three basic components,’ he said. ‘There’s the vaccine, there’s your immunity you might have had after you’ve had Covid, and there’s testing – they are three things that could work together.

When Mr Johnson raised the issue of Covid certificates on Wednesday he said it would likely be up to landlords whether they demanded them, but yesterday his spokesman refused to rule out the possibility they could be mandatory.

Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said yes-terday he was ‘horrified’ by the proposals.

He told BBC Radio’s the World At One: ‘We will end up swiping in everywhere…. creating an enormous audit trail of everywhere we’ve been based on our health status.

‘It’s the most extraordinary upending of the principles that I thought the Conservative Party stood for.

‘If somebody for whatever reason chooses not to have a vaccination, then that is down to them, it’s their responsibility… We cannot end up with the whole of our civilisation dramati-cally changing its relationship with the state because a small number of people don’t trust science to protect their health.’

He added: ‘If the Prime Minister was on the back benches, I’m very, very sure that he would be one of our leading voices against just the kind of policies he’s now bringing forward.

‘I’m very clear for me it’s an existential issue, it’s a die in the ditch issue. I will not at any stage be supporting the idea of the public living in the embrace of the state to this extent.’

In the Commons, Conservative former minister Dr Liam Fox said: ‘Where the Government were to try to compel individuals to carry some proof of either immunity through vaccine or a negative test, I think that would be completely unacceptable in a country where civil liber-ties are held so highly and so prized…

‘I would not like to see a Conservative government in-tervene in the freedom of the private sector to choose the customers that they have.’

Tory select committee chairman William Wragg told MPs: ‘I cannot help but think we have a back of a fag packet-esque approach to this whole question of Covid vaccine certification.

‘If I could be so bold and suggest that as the Conservative Party, we might actually think what we believe in as a party, not let ourselves be carried away by a utilitarian urge that seems to have swept across the Treasury bench, leaving very few standing.’

An woman from Hartlepool receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine in Middlesbrough on Monday

An woman from Hartlepool receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine in Middlesbrough on Monday

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove was asked by Mr Wragg about remarks he made in December when he said people would not need to be vaccinated to go to the pub.

Mr Gove replied: ‘Consistency is often the hobgoblin of small minds, but my view on this is-sue is consistent.

‘A system that relied purely on vaccination would not be appropriate, but what would be right was a system that ensured that we can open up our economy to the maximum extent, that takes account of vaccine status, but also recent test status and poten-tially antibody status.

‘But the best thing to do is to be guided by scientific and clinical advice and then to subject that advice to proper, rigorous, ethical questioning, rather than taking an instant, off-the-shelf, instinctive approach.’

The NHS app that officials are looking to modify is different to the one used for contact tracing.

To set it up patients must provide their NHS number, email address, phone number and then upload either an image of their passport or driving licence.

The smartphone then takes a scan of a person’s face to check it matches the one on their identification.

How will the lockdown be eased in England?

Step One Part One: March 8

From March 8, all pupils and students returned to schools and colleges across England. 

So-called wrap-around childcare was also allowed to resume, paving the way for after and before school clubs to reopen.

People were allowed to meet one other person outside for recreation, for example, to have a picnic or to meet for coffee. 

Care home residents were be able to have one regular named visitor. 

The Government’s stay at home order remained in place, with travel for non-essential purposes still banned.

Step One Part Two: March 29

From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed. These gatherings will be allowed to happen in private gardens.

Outdoor sports like tennis and basketball will be allowed to reopen and people will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

It is at this point that the Government’s stay at home guidance will end, to be replaced by ministers encouraging people to ‘stay local’.

However, the Government is expected not to define what constitutes local, instead choosing to rely on people using their common sense to decide on journeys.

People will still be told to work from home wherever possible while international travel will still be banned unless it is for essential purposes.

Step Two: April 12

Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as well as personal care premises like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons.

Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers.

Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form.

However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household.

Gyms and swimming pools will also reopen from April 12 but only on the basis that people go on their own or with their own household.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors. 

The Government will not be bringing back the old requirement for people to order a substantial meal with alcohol while the old 10pm curfew will be ditched.

All customers at hospitality venues will also have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited.

Campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can also reopen but trips must be restricted a single household.

Funerals will be allowed to continue with up to 30 people, while the rules on wedding receptions will be eased to allow the number of guests to increase from six to 15.

Step Three: May 17

The two household and rule of six requirements for outdoor gatherings will be ditched but gatherings of more than 30 people in places like parks will still be banned.

Crucially, mixing indoors will be allowed again. The rule of six or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed to meet.

However, this will be kept under review by ministers to see if rules could be relaxed still further.

This is also the point at which pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to open indoors, with the rule of six and two household limit in place. But groups meeting outdoors at pubs will be allowed to be bigger.

Entertainment venues like cinemas and children’s play areas will be able to reopen, as will hotels and B&Bs. Indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes can also reopen.

Changes will also be made to sporting and performance events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full.

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