Pubs ready to reopen as punters warned be cautious or face Covid infection ‘rebound’

Pubs ready to reopen as punters warned be cautious or face Covid infection ‘rebound’

 

Pubs and restaurants are setting up for their grand reopening on Monday – but experts have warned punters to show caution amid fears of a “rebound” of Covid-19 infections.

Hospitality venues with outside areas or beer gardens will be able to open their doors to customers again from midnight tonight.

It is the second stage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s four-step roadmap to exiting lockdown, which will also see the reopening of non-essential retail, hairdressers and gyms.

Professor Peter Horby, a senior scientist advising the Government, warned on Sunday that the remaining rules must be abided by to minimise the effects of a future “rebound” in cases.

Bars, pubs and restaurants have been gearing up in the past few months to ensure they can maximise their ability to serve customers outside and maintain social distancing.

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For those able to reopen, there are no rules on opening hours, meaning some thirsty drinkers may be able to get to a pub as early as 12.01am on Monday.

Punters can also visit a pub or restaurant in groups as long as they abide by the rule of six or two households.

Unlike the previous relaxation of rules, there will be no 10pm curfew, meaning the time at which a pub closes is entirely dependent on its license.

There will also be no obligation to have a meal alongside their drink, but people have been urged to follow some essential rules while visiting venues.

These include wearing a mask when moving around and maintaining social distancing.

All those aged 16 and over must also check in on the NHS Track and Trace app yet there are stil no immediate plans for a vaccine passport to access venues.

Prof Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), urged people to follow guidelines as he said: “The watchword has got to be caution really.

“The modelling, which is now pretty good, does show that we can expect some kind of rebound – it’s not clear exactly when or how big it will be, but there is, I think, inevitably going to be a bit of a rebound in the number of cases when things are relaxed.”

The University of Oxford academic said the vaccination programme will minimise the extent of hospital admissions and deaths but warned it will not be completely effective.

“Now the extent of it really depends on how well we comply with the ongoing restrictions so we really have to take this step by step,” he added.

“I think we can be joyful and enjoy the freedoms but we’ve still got to realise there’s still a large number of people who’ve not been infected or vaccinated and so they will be at risk.”

Hospitality venues had to shut their doors in January as the third national lockdown came into force following a rise in new variant infections.

But with the vaccine rollout under control and on track, the Prime Minister said non-essential businesses can safely reopen from April 12.

Indoor socialising outside support bubbles carries on being banned, as well as international travel.

Alongside pubs and restaurants, April 12 will see a major reopening of business as outdoor entertainment including zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas will also resume.

Domestic holidays can resume to an extent, with overnight stays permitted in self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets and campsites where indoor facilities are not shared.

But these can only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.

The next significant date is May 17, when socialising indoors will be permitted under the “rule of six” if the Prime Minister judges that the vaccination programme is safely breaking the link between infections and deaths.

After three months of full national lockdown, the Government said on Sunday that a further seven people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Another 1,730 lab-confirmed cases were also announced.

Around 61 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official figures suggesting that more than 32 million people have received a jab. More than 14 per cent have had both doses.

A pub staff pins up a re-opening sign at the Fox on the Hill pub in south London,

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