The United Kingdom’s restaurants and pubs can return to serving customers in April, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
As Great Britain has gotten a head start on the vaccination rollout compared to the rest of Europe, the country is able to set a road map for a way out of lockdown. Johnson said the government’s plan would move the country “cautiously but irreversibly” out of lockdown, and a return to outdoor service in pubs and restaurants will return as early as 12 April, with indoor service arriving a month later on 17 May.
With optimism, Johnson announced in the House of Commons: “We’re setting out on what I hope is a one-way road to freedom”.
While the UK has Europe’s deadliest outbreak of coronavirus, with some 120,000 fatalities - the highest in Europe - early approval of the vaccine, and a one-shot policy, has enabled the government to reach a higher rate of vaccination than its neighbours.
Johnson said there is “no credible route to a zero-Covid Britain, or indeed, a zero-Covid world”. But he added, “We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental wellbeing and the life chances of our children”.
The hospitality sector in the UK will welcome the news of a return to business. However, Johnson was careful to strike a note of caution, saying that the lifting of restrictions was subject to a continued fall in transmission rates and could be rescinded should the rate rise again.
The current third wave, the UK's most deadly by far, came about after the country relaxed lockdown laws over Christmas. It is hoped that this time will be different, as the general consensus in the scientific community is that the vaccinations that have so far been rolled out provide sufficient protection against the transmission of the virus, and hospitalisation rates have fallen significantly.
Restaurants in Northern Ireland will be able to open in April, whereas nearby in the Republic of Ireland, it is assumed that hospitality business will not be able to open their doors until "late summer", according to leaked government information.