To allow this to happen he announced that the two-metre social distancing rule will be replaced by a new ‘one-metre plus’ regime, insisting that mitigations such as face coverings gave a ‘broadly equivalent’ protection at the shorter distance.
Businesses that reopen must implement a range of such mitigations, with pubs and restaurants, for example, asked to record contact details of all customers to enable them to be traced in the event of coronavirus outbreaks.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Having confirmation of the reopening date is a real boon and affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations.
“The Government has given due recognition to how hard hospitality has been hit by this crisis. Our sector was one of the first to be seriously affected and we are going to be one of the last to reopen. Getting venues open again, even with social distancing measures in place, is the best way to secure businesses and jobs.
“Reducing the minimum distance will be a huge help to hospitality. The two-metre rule would have capped capacity for most venues at around 30%. That would have been totally unviable for most businesses and would have risked even more jobs and the futures of venues.
“Reduction to one-metre should see most venues able to trade at around 70% of capacity, which could be the difference between failure and staying alive to see out the remainder of the crisis, particularly with added support.”
Christian Mole, an industry analyst with EY UK&I Hospitality & Leisure, said: “In our experience, most operators have already been drawing up their own extensive sets of operating health and safety protocols, and hence should be relatively well-prepared for reopening on 4 July.
“However, longer term uncertainties remain, particularly for restaurants, which was a sector under pressure even pre-Covid-19.
“In light of potentially reduced incomes and health concerns, the extent to which consumer confidence will translate to a rapid return in footfall is uncertain.
“After the peak July and August summer season – when staycation-driven bookings will be high – the financial stability of many businesses will come under renewed pressure, particularly as furloughing ends and pressures to pay previously deferred costs, most noticeably rent, increase.”
John Whitehouse, chair of FEA (Foodservice Equipment Association) added: “This is welcome news for the foodservice industry. It’s a ray of light after a very grim period.
“The decision underlines the importance of effective collaboration – the trade associations and other bodies who represent the industry have been lobbying the government together, and the strength and passion of their argument have been heard.
“Getting the hospitality industry moving is critical to everyone, none more so than the foodservice equipment supply chain, where sales have dropped by 80% or more.”