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Give us a definite date to reopen, pub industry urges Boris Johnson

Cheers:
People will
be allowed
to drink
outside
West
End pubs
when they
reopen
PICTURE: ALAMY

PUB owners are demanding that Boris Johnson confirms by tomorrow that they will be allowed to reopen on July 4 — or hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost.

They have written to the prime minister warning that the sector has been left in ‘limbo’ and has now reached ‘crisis point’.

Among the signatories was the British Beer & Pub Association, which represents around 20,000 of the nation’s 40,000 hostelries.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘Our sector is burning through £100million a month with no cash coming in. That is not sustainable.

‘We need a definitive date on when pubs can reopen.’ The industry delivered its deadline as Westminster city council unveiled a Continental-style plan to revive pubs, restaurants and cafes in London’s West End from July 4.

Those in areas most popular with tourists — including Covent Garden, Soho and Mayfair — will be allowed to temporarily place tables and chairs outside, along with ‘soft’ road closures.

Table service will be mandatory but drinkers will be allowed to stand outside some pubs where their licence permits.

But in a blow to the West End, impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh said his eight theatres — staging hit shows including Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Phantom of the Opera — would remain closed until 2021.

Sir Cameron, 73, blamed his ‘drastic’ action on ‘continued uncertainty’ over when the government is going to end the ‘impossible constraints’ of social distancing. He said: ‘Without our theatres being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world’s greatest cities.’

At yesterday’s daily coronavirus briefing, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said experts were working on a ‘roadmap’ to allow live performances.

■ THE death toll of patients who tested positive for coronavirus in the UK rose by 184 yesterday, taking the total to 42,153. It was the lowest Wednesday figure for 12 weeks and down from 233 on Tuesday. There are 5,308 people in hospital with the virus, from a peak of 20,698 on April 12.