UK pubs may be allowed to open in July as long as social distancing measures are followed and table orders put in place to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
Government officials have engaged pub owners in talks to iron out how locals can be opened.
Ministers are drawing up plans to relax outdoor seating licences so that pubs can open in July.
Pubs could be allowed to sell pints and food as market-style outdoor stalls from June 1.
Establishments that do not already have open areas would have to wait longer to reopen and would have to pay around £300 for a licence.
Government officials have previously suggested it could take many months for pubs to reopen – sparking fears for the future of many of the UK’s 48,349 locals.
But a top Government adviser said at the beginning of May there is no reason pub beer gardens should not reopen – as long as boozers can maintain social distancing.
Pub chain Greene King is planning to reopen beer gardens, with punters ordering their drinks on the phone.
This comes after some top scientists predicted that the hospitality could start to pick up without triggering a second wave.
Employers are likely to be asked to stagger working hours for some staff, while hand washing kits are set to be introduced at entry and exit points.
Regular cleaning will be needed, while there could be caps on the number of people allowed into a bar at any one time.
British pub operators have also asked for social distancing rules to be halved from two metres to one, in talks with government on reopening, worried that many will have to close permanently otherwise, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
The report cited Simon Emeny, chief executive of pub group Fuller’s, as saying that the rules in the country currently went “above and beyond” the World Health Organisation guidelines.
“I think it’s really important that (the rules) are relaxed by the time pubs reopen,” Emeny was quoted as saying.
The FT also added that Jonathan Neame, the head of pub operator Shepherd Neame, said attempting to keep people two metres away would be “profoundly challenging” and many pubs would have to remain closed.
It’s also likely that punters will be able to order fewer drinks, while tape showing how far apart customers must stand from one another could be used.
Early in May, Professor Robert Dingwall, a top Government adviser, said pub beer gardens should reopen as long as punters can stay apart.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If it is a sunny weekend afternoon and the pub has a garden and the landlords are prepared to accept responsibility for not overcrowding that garden, I see no particular reason why it should not reopen.”
Tourism Alliance Director Kurt Janson told the Sun Online that pubs could open up large beer gardens on high streets and farmlands in order to maintain socially-distant drinking.
Those already with allocated outdoor seating are due to be given guidance on how they might be able to reopen from June 1.
And plans are being considered to offer “blanket permission” to businesses wanting to add outdoor seating for customers.
It is hoped the outdoor openings will allow venues to get people back to work.
News From: The Sun