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Environment Secretary George Eustice said pubs could be on course to open in a matter of weeks if social distancing rules to stop the spread of the coronavirus can be adhered to. He said: “Of course we also recognise that until things return to something closer to normal and they can open normally, hopefully later this summer, then it will not give them all of the trade they previously had.
“As the Prime Minister has outlined, we intend that the hospitality sector including pubs would be able to tentatively start gradually opening hopefully during the month of July – subject to the epidemiology supporting such a move.
“And of course we are already working with the hospitality and pub sector to identify what social distancing measures they might be able to put in place to make that work properly.”
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned pubs and restaurants would be not open until July 4 at the earliest.
He previously said: “From 4th July, at the earliest, we’ll look at other sectors and that will include hospitality, but it will also include personal care and people like hairdressers.
“Obviously the proximity in those two sectors is something where we don’t think we’re ready yet, given where we are with the virus.”
The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have told Tory MPs that he wanted a return to “near-normality” in July but this depended on on the public sticking to the rules.
Other reports suggested there were plans to reopen cafes, pubs and restaurants as street stalls to help bring business back to high streets which have been all but closed down in a bid to curb the virus’ spread.
He said: “If we all stick at it, then we’ll be able, gradually, to get rid of the complexities and the restrictions and make it easier and simpler for families to meet again.
“But we must move slowly, and at the right time.”
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Mr Johnson has been forced to admit that there was public frustration with his government’s measures to ease the coronavirus lockdown following widespread criticism of the new rules, which he admitted were more complex.
He wrote in the Mail on Sunday paper: “I understand that people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules.”
Last week, ministers began a gradual easing of restrictions in England, with people who could not work from home encouraged to return to their jobs whilst being told to avoid using public transport if possible.
The changes do not apply to people in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, whose semi-autonomous governments have not eased the lockdown.
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