MPs have been warned three quarters of hospitality businesses – including pubs and restaurants – could go bust unless the two-metre social distancing rule is dropped.
On Thursday night, the all-party group for hospitality and tourism presented a report to fellow Members of Parliament which said three in four firms in the sector could lose up to 80 per cent of their capacity under the two-metre rule.
“It will make the operational reopening of many venues challenging,” it said.
“Business confidence studies submitted to the all-party group suggested up to 75 per cent of businesses surveyed were not confident that they could survive with this level of social distancing enforced.”
It went on to point out that the two-metre rule exceeds World Health Organisation guidance of one metre.
“For travel and tourism businesses, it is difficult to imagine two-metre social distancing being feasible in most circumstances,” it added.
Under the current lockdown easing timetable, pubs and restaurants could be free to reopen from July 4.
But pub trade bodies are continuing to plead with the Government to reduce the two metre distancing rule, with many boozers too small to make re-opening worthwhile under current guidelines.
Earlier this month, Boris Johnson had told MPs the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) had been asked to review the guidance about social distancing.
The WHO’s internationally recognised social distancing standard is used in the likes of Italy, Denmark and France.
Whitehall sources told the Daily Mail the PM had told allies that scrapping the rule was a matter of “when, not if”.
One told the newspaper: “He wants to do it when he’s confident it is safe to do so. I would be surprised if there is a single member of the Cabinet who wants to keep the rule as it is, but the science says we just can’t move yet.”
In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality (UKH) had called for furlough salary for pub and hospitality staff to be maintained at 80% until October.
Mr Sunak is reputed to be among a group of ministers calling themselves the “save summer six” hoping to get pubs, bars and restaurants open this month.
Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, meanwhile, has said Britain is facing an economic “catastrophe” due to the Covid-19 crisis with millions of jobs at risk of being swept away by a “great tsunami”.
The extent to which people are able to find new work will hinge on the UK’s financial recovery from the pandemic, he said.