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Here’s What Happened in the London Restaurant World Last Week

With a very tentative reopening date set, the city’s dining scene looks to how it will get there

Moro on Hackney Road, east London, is closed because of the covid—19 pandemic Michaël Protin/Eater London

Last week, for the first time in a while, U.K. restaurants could set a date. On 4 July, restaurants will be able to reopen — subject to the continued satisfaction of medical advice from the government. Though that date brings little in the way of certainty, it does offer a timeline, and more restaurants have begun to consider their corona-time strategies as a result.

Here’s what that looked like.

  • Before there was one date, there were two. On Sunday last week, Boris Johnson told the U.K. that some hospitality businesses could open in phase three of the government’s reopening plan, on 1 July. By the next morning, it was 4 July, with a crucial caveat: spaces “crowded by design” like no-reservation restaurants and many pubs would almost certainly have to wait until after that date. This, together with the risk that the date could change at almost no notice depending on how the pandemic develops, means that for most restaurants, the opening date is irrelevant: the extent of coming government support matters far more.

  • That scrutiny arrived on Friday, as MPs joined the restaurant industry in lobbying against a policy that London restaurateur Jeremy King has publicly called “extraordinarily discriminatory.” With the scheme’s chassis secure, restaurateurs see an opportunity to tinker, in a way that will be advantageous to their workers.

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