Rules for meeting friends outdoors in beer gardens from April 12

Steps have been put in place to bring England’s lockdown to an end over the coming months, with dates now set to reopen the hospitality industry.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Boris Johnson shared his roadmap out of lockdown, including the earliest dates we could see bars, restaurants, non-essential stores, gyms and more reopen.

The Prime Minister also shared the four steps England is due to take in order to end lockdown, which includes the phased reopening of the hospitality industry.

No earlier than April 12, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, but for outdoor service only.

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The question on many peoples’ minds is will you be able to meet friends for an outdoor drink, and what other rules will be in place?

How many people can you meet?

Step two, which will come no less than five weeks after step one, will see the rules change to allow the Rule of Six to return.

This means up to six people, or two households, can meet outdoors.

Where can you meet?

‘Outdoors’ refers to private gardens and any other outdoor space, which includes beer gardens, cafes or restaurants with outdoor seating spaces, and hospitality areas in venues like zoos and theme parks, which are also due to reopen at this time.

Can you just meet people for a drink and are you allowed inside to order?

The government guidelines state that hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only, and this time round people can just meet for a drink. The rules state: “There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.”

That means venues must offer table service and propping up at the bar is off limits for a while longer.

Will social distancing rules still be in place?

According to the latest guidance, businesses reopening “must abide by the social contact rules”, meaning social distancing will still be in place.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor services only

It also says: “The Government will continue to enforce restrictions and require businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission and to ensure social distancing rules are followed.

“Local authorities and the police will continue to provide support and advice to newly reopened settings, enabling them to operate safely. Where businesses do not follow the rules, the appropriate enforcement action will be taken”.

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When can we eat and drink inside again?

Pubs, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen fully from no earlier than May 17. However, these dates are subject to change depending on the data meeting England’s “four tests”.

The four tests for easing measures include the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates, which will be assessed by ministers before proceeding to the next step.

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