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Beer gardens will be first to reopen’ once pubs are given green light to trade again

To help maintain social distancing after lockdown measures are eased, the boss of one UK pub chain has suggested that outdoor spaces reopen first, with customers ordering drinks via the retailer’s app

Drinks could also be limited to just three per person (Image: Moment RF)

Beer gardens will most likely be the first areas to reopen in pubs, according to one major UK chain.

To help maintain social distancing, Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said outdoor spaces will reopen first, with customers ordering drinks via the retailer’s app.

Drinks will also be delivered in a way that keeps staff and customers safe, with minimal social interaction.

Mackenzie shared his vision for how pubs could operate in an interview with The Sunday Times.

His idea would see customers still able to order drinks, but they won’t be allowed inside pubs.

This week, health secretary Matt Hancock hinted that cafés with outdoor spaces may be allowed to reopen.

“There is strong evidence that outdoors the spread is much, much lower, so there may be workarounds that some businesses, for instance cafes, especially over the summer, may be able to put into place,” Hancock said.

Green King also owns the Hungry Horse chain (Image: Getty)

His comments have fuelled questions over whether pub gardens with customers ordering via phones will be allowed to trade under plans for relaxed lockdown measures.

The Greene King app was launched in December 2019 in its 267 Hungry Horse pubs, allowing customers to order food and drinks to their table in the pub.

A spokesperson from the pub chain said it has yet to schedule a timeframe for when pubs will start serving again, which would be subject to Government measures.

The interview with Mackenzie comes after rival Wetherspoon said it was in talks to reopen its pubs and hotels in June. 

The company said it is working on plans to implement social distancing measures in its pubs but again, there has been no further update on when boozers could reopen their doors.

The public have also been told they could be limited to three pints per visit once lockdown is lifted, under suggestions by a government advisor.

Greene King temporarily shut all 2,700 of its pubs on March 20, placing thousands of workers on furlough.

This week it confirmed staff can apply for cash grants worth up to £400 through a newly set-up fund.

The pub chain has partnered with the Licensed Trade Charity for the new initiative, which has received an initial donation of £300,000 from Greene King.

Subject to meeting certain criteria, all 38,000 Greene King team members will be eligible to access the fund.

When will pubs reopen?

(Image: Getty)

Despite relaxed lockdown restrictions, pubs and restaurants are expected to remain closed for the majority of the summer.

Pubs and restaurants could be last to reopen because they are densely packed social areas that are perfect breeding grounds for the spread of coronavirus. 

Dr Harries and local government secretary Robert Jenrick were asked about mass gatherings at one of the Government’s daily Downing Street briefings.

Dr Harries said mixing with friends and others outside in a small environment outside your home, such as pubs, would not be a good idea.

“If you go as a family unit and sit in one place and you’ve got the same exposure there that you would in your house at home, that’s probably quite a safe environment,” she explained.

“If you go with a whole load of friends that you haven’t seen from before the coronavirus lockdown, sit in a pub in a very small environment, lean well over each other on the table and stay there for some hours face-to-face, that’s really not a good thing to do.”

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