Huge number of pubs ‘will never reopen' with two-metre distancing rules in place

12 June 2020 by

A huge number of pubs will never reopen with two-metre distancing rules in place, according to Oakman Inns' chief executive Peter Borg-Neal.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Borg-Neal, who runs 28 pubs and employs 1,000 staff, said two-metre rules would "considerably" reduce the capacity of his business.

"I would estimate that if two metres is in place, many pubs would never, ever reopen," he said. "For us, it would mean we'd be able to open some, but it would be subeconomic. We really need it to get closer to one metre for it to make any sense."

Reports have suggested that with two-metre rules in place, venues are likely to be able to operate at 30% capacity, but this rises to 70% capacity with one-metre rules in place.

This week Brett Graham, said his two-Michelin-starred restaurant the Ledbury in London's Notting Hill, would remain closed indefinitely because even one-metre distancing rules would be "unworkable".

"The business model of a high average spend in a small dining room can't be done properly without going against government guidelines," he said.

Meanwhile, government indecision on distancing rules is costing businesses that have geared up for two metres millions of pounds and causing chaos.

The Guardian reports that local authorities and businesses have spent as much as £50m on signs and barriers based on two-metre distancing, much of which would have to be scrapped if the rules changed.

Tudor Evans, the Labour leader of Plymouth council, told the paper: "A lot of people have spent a lot of time in the public and private sectors to get things ready for opening up in accordance with government regulations. To have this uncertainty, this close to opening, is really an emblem for how chaotic the government's handling has been."

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