**Updated June 24th 2020**
Yesterday (June 23rd), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that establishments in England including bars, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open from Saturday 4th July - with restrictions in place.
With the increasing concern of job losses and business closures within the sector, there was previously a discussion within the government that this date may have been moved forward to June 22nd, however, the July date is now confirmed.
Impact on food manufacturers and foodservice suppliers
Many food manufacturers have seen a sharp rise in demand as customers increased their retail spend. Previously, consumers may have dined out a few times a week and when hospitality businesses were forced to close on the 20th March, people had to no choice but to buy all their food from the supermarkets, and in panic buyers further added to the strain. Food manufacturers raced to meet demand, growing their production and supply chain capacity.
However, this was not good news for those food manufacturers which supply solely to foodservice and hospitality, which saw their orders disappear overnight. With these businesses reopening next weekend and begin serving customers, foodservice suppliers can get back up and running again.
Other places allowed to reopen on July 4th include hairdressers, outdoor playgrounds, campsites, theme parks, cinemas and theatres, bingo halls, work canteens and community centres. Some of these establishments provide food to their customers, so this is further positive news for foodservice suppliers who can start to see their orders rolling in once again.
Social distancing rules relaxed
In yesterday's update, Boris Johnson said that the 2 metre rule should still be followed when possible, although when not, "1 metre plus" can be used - but with safety precautions such as sitting side-by-side and wearing face masks.
There was worry that it would be too difficult for the 2 metre rule to be observed (especially in smaller establishments) and predicted that capacity would be restricted to around 40%. With staffing and running costs the same, it may not have been viable for some businesses to operate profitably.
Young’s pubs, which have 276 establishments, announced a couple of fo weeks ago, that they would not reopen with the 2 metre rule in place.
Establishments will only be able to operate if strict COVID-Secure guidelines are adhered to. Table service will be mandatory - so no queuing for the bar.
Details of all customers will be recorded as part of the test and trace programme. This is in case they need to be notified of having been in proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
A positive note
With a concrete date for these establishments to reopen, this is excellent news for staff and suppliers to the foodservice sector. It will be fantastic to see these businesses open again and staff returning to work. The number of job losses which can be avoided in the sector the better.
At the moment, these new rules only apply to England, let's hope the rest of the UK soon follows suit.
I dare say it, but if the British weather can hold out, we can enjoy a beautiful afternoon with chips and wine in a pub garden very soon!