COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will not be eased in England before 19 July, new health secretary Sajid Javid has told the House of Commons today, 28 June. While the coronavirus lockdown roadmap’s pausing of step four — including the lifting of all social distancing restrictions — allowed for the possibility of reopening on 5 July, Javid said that “we see no reason to go beyond the 19 July, because no date we choose comes with no risk of COVID.”
For restaurants, while step three — the reopening of dining rooms indoors on 17 May — was the most important coronavirus roadmap date, current restrictions still limit their ability to trade indoors and, in the case of pubs serving food, provide service at the bar.
Many had also budgeted for a June reopening, which would have preceded changes in financial support that come into effect from July. On 1 July, employers will have to start paying 10 percent of furloughed workers’ wages, with the government grant reducing to 70 percent, while business rates relief is set to decline from 100 percent off to 66 percent off. These changes create increased costs for restaurants with no attendant increase in trade.
Javid has now set out a stall on reopening, as prime minister Boris Johnson has long trumpeted, “irreversibly.” Restaurants will wait and see if that holds.