Alcohol sales more than doubled in bars and restaurants on Monday compared with before the pandemic as thirsty Britons returned to the pub.
Drinks sales soared by 113.8 per cent compared to the equivalent day in 2019 as thousands packed into beer gardens across England for the first time in four months.
The figures, for the 41,000 licensed premises able to open outdoors, showed a dip of 12 per cent in food sales.
Cold weather and worries over social distancing may have kept the lid on dining but but trade bosses called it a ‘fairly solid performance’ for the hospitality sector.
People enjoy drinks and food outside a bar in Soho, central London, on Tuesday night, on the second day of the reopening of hospitality
People out for a drink in Soho, London, on Tuesday night now that pubs have reopened
Only 38.2% of venues with outdoor capacity in England reopened on April 12, giving further optimism for the industry and the British economy as thousands packed into bars and restaurants across England.
What restrictions have now been eased from the strict lockdown?
- All non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen, as will hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms and swimming pools, with no group classes allowed.
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes can reopen for outdoor service, but will have to wait until at least May 17 to serve customers indoors.
- Mass testing to be available, with everyone urged to take two tests per week.
- New care home rules will allow residents to have two visitors, rather than just one.
- Self-catering accommodation, including campsites, can reopen, but hotels and B&Bs must remain closed until at least May 17.
- Shops will be allowed to stay open until 10pm, six days a week, in a bid to reduce crowding.
- The maximum number of people allowed to attend weddings and wakes will rise from six to 15.
- Public buildings can reopen, as can outdoor attractions such as theme parks and zoos.
- Controversial hospitality rules such as the 10pm curfew and requirement to buy a ‘substantial meal’ with alcohol will be dropped.
- Clothes shops will be allowed to reopen their changing rooms for the first time in more than a year.
Still banned –
Until May 17 at the earliest: Gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors, with the rule of six and two-household rule indoors; pubs and restaurants will reopen indoors; and controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted.
Outdoor events will be allowed to have a capacity of 50 per cent or 4,000 people, whichever is lower; while special provisions will be made for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be spaced out, with up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes. Indoor gatherings like exercise classes will be given the go ahead.
Until June 21 at the earliest: All legal limits on social contact will be lifted and nightclubs reopened.
Boris Johnson yesterday urged the public to ‘show restrain’ as Britons returned to their local boozers under stage two of his roadmap out of lockdown.
Monday saw non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons and gyms to reopen along with pubs and restaurants – for outdoor service.
The number of people able to attend weddings and receptions was also increased to 15.
Business leaders are now looking ahead to step three, May 17, when the Government will allow indoor hospitality to reopen, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs.
Jonny Jones, managing director of CGA, which compiles hospitality data, said: ‘The first day of trading after England’s lockdown showed a fairly solid performance and demonstrates how consumers were keen to enjoy their first drink out with like-for-like drinks sales up nearly 115% for outlets that were open compared with the equivalent day in 2019.
‘Food sales didn’t fare quite so well, at 12% below 2019 levels, but this is understandable given that operators can currently only trade outside.’
But the prime minister sounded a note of caution on Tuesday, warning that throwing caution to the wind could derail his plan to unlock the country.
Mr Johnson stressed that it was the lockdown and social distancing measures which had driven down infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths – not vaccinations.
‘At the moment I cannot see any reason for us to change the roadmap or deviate from the targets we’ve set ourselves,’ the PM said.
‘But it is very very important that if we are to get there in the way we want, that people continue to be cautious, and exercise restraint.’
It came as millions woke to their first post-pub hangovers in months yesterday after beer gardens were given the green light after four months shut.
All stages of the government’s roadmap – May 17 and June 21 are next – fall on a Monday, meaning plenty were nursing sore heads at their desks today.
One drinker declared: ‘Happy to announce that I have a hangover after a night in a pub’ while another celebrated a ‘cracking day’. Meanwhile one reveller spoke for many when she said: ‘The hangover from April 12 is really like no other’.
But many were still sinking pints this afternoon and enjoying so-called liquid lunch breaks out in the sunshine.
Dubbed the Glorious Twelfth, Monday also heralded the return of hairdressers, gyms and non-essential shops.
Sporting his own trimmed-back trademark blonde locks in Downing Street, the PM warned: ‘People have been able to go to the pub, to go shopping, get a haircut and so on, and that’s great.
Bookings for pubs and restaurants have exploded with some said to be reserved until May
Boris Johnson released some of the Covid restrictions on Monday as part of his ‘roadmap’
‘The numbers are down, of infections and hospitalisations and deaths. But it is very important for everyone to understand that the reduction in these numbers has not been achieved by the vaccination programme – it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic.
‘And so, yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.
‘So, as we unlock the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, and sadly more hospitalisations and deaths and people have just got to understand that.’