Wednesday 5 May 2021 9:10 am

'Freedom day': Pub bosses wipe down the bar for a 21 June return

The UK’s pub bosses are wiping the bar down for a June return, coined “freedom day”, urging prime minister Boris Johnson to stick to his roadmap for the easing of restrictions.

JD Wetherspoon, Greene King, Slug & Lettuce owner Stonegate and Young’s have all expressed their intentions for a 21 June return of bar service, the earliest date that Covid-19 restrictions are likely to be lifted. 

Wetherspoon’s is looking to switch back to normal services as soon as regulations allow, according to the Telegraph.

Table service, which is the only pub service available currently, will be a “legacy of the pandemic,” Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin said, adding that “the bar counter areas are likely to be less busy than in the past.”

Young’s, which has nearly 300 pubs across London and the South East said it too was preparing for June’s “freedom day”.

When limited table numbers are a reality of the past, “people will be able to stand up and chat to their friends and family without having to be sat down,” Young’s chief executive, Patrick Dardis, said.

Stonegate, which runs more than 4,500 sites across the UK, said it planned to restore bar service in its managed pubs once restrictions are lifted, alongside Fuller’s. Greene King is also understood to be preparing for normal services from 21 June. 

It comes after Johnson said there was a “good chance” social distancing measures could be shelved next month as the number of daily Covid-19 deaths continues to fall. However, the prime minister’s roadmap is susceptible to change, and chairman Martin warned the hospitality industry was “incredibly nervous”.

In the event of another spike in injections, Martin explained that the government should reimpose July 2020 rules that saw sanitisers and masks be used inside. 

Under the current restrictions, pubs and restaurants are only allowed to serve groups of up to six who must be seated outside. Meanwhile, indoor drinking and dining are forecast to return from 17 May.

However, social distancing measures and restrictions on group sizes will remain.

“Boris will really struggle to persuade the British public, if the statistics and the data continue as they are, as to why 21 June can be anything other than freedom day,” Young’s Dardis said.