Britons could face two or three pint limit to stop all-day drinkers

Now they want to ration beer: Britons could face two or three pint limit when pubs reopen

  • Pubs could reopen if landlords rationed beer to two or three pints per customer 
  • People would then be asked to go home to help with social distancing measures
  • Proposal from lockdown adviser Professor Eyal Winter of Lancaster University
  • People are ‘starving’ for pubs which he called ‘important part of British culture’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Pubs could reopen if landlords rationed beer to two or three pints per customer then asked them to go home to help with social distancing measures, it has been claimed.

Lockdown adviser Professor Eyal Winter, of Lancaster University, said people were ‘starving’ for pubs which he described as ‘an important part of British culture’.

Mr Winter, an economist advising politicians on how to ease the coronavirus restrictions, said social distancing would have to be enforced if pubs reopen.

Keith McGimpsey, the landlord of the Rocket pub in Rainhill, Merseyside puts up pub closed signs on March 21 after the Prime Minister ordered pubs across the country to close

One possible result of his proposals would be to stagger the number of people going into pubs over the course of a day to avoid them getting ‘very full’ at one.

He also told The Guardian that those flouting the rules should be fined amid fears some people would behave unacceptably as soon as lockdown measures cease.

And he said theatres and cinemas could reopen but only selling half as many tickets as normal with gaps in seating and higher prices to cover lower revenue.

Mr Winter said Britain should follow the approach of the Germans with clear dates and targets on reducing restrictions as the country leaves the lockdown.

The closed Joseph Else Wetherspoon pub in Nottingham is pictured on March 21

He told the newspaper. ‘One of the most important things is to have a programme to say ‘in two weeks we will do such and such’. You need to make the rules crystal clear and explain the rationale behind each one of them.’ 

On Saturday, another Government adviser said that beer gardens should be allowed to reopen to drinkers.

Pubs have been shut since the UK went into lockdown on March 23, but Professor Robert Dingwall said it is time to relax the rules.

‘If it is a sunny weekend afternoon and the pub has a garden and the landlords are prepared to accept responsibility for not overcrowding that garden, I see no particular reason why it should not reopen,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Revellers enjoy themselves outside O’Neills pub in Clapham, South London, on March 20, ahead of the pub ban coming into force

As lockdown set in late last month, police were on the alert to close any pubs or bars that refused to comply with the government’s shutdown of social venues.

Forces were mobilised to enforce the shutdown, with chief constables engaging civil contingencies designed to respond to events such as rioting and terrorism, allowing longer shifts and making more officers available.

Officers were granted the power Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to revoke operating licences for different types of venues if they were deemed to be playing a role in disorder.

The Prime Minister had ordered all pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and sports centres to close ‘as soon as they reasonably can and not to reopen’ the following day – with drinkers across the country panic-buying alcohol from supermarkets and enjoying their final pints before lockdown.

Customers dance at the Lord Stamford pub in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, on March 20

On the Friday night just before lockdown, thousands of revellers had ignored the government’s advice on social distancing to enjoy their weekend as usual at venues across the country.

Boris Johnson announced that the government would have to go further as he ordered premises to close their doors, taking away ‘the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub.’

Yesterday, Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Daisy Cooper called for greater support to be given to pubs and restaurants during the pandemic.

She said: ‘Pubs and restaurants have been hit particularly badly during Covid-19. Those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 don’t qualify for the retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund.

‘Will the Government commit to extend the retail, hospitality and leisure grant funds to properties with a rateable value of up to £150,000, will it instruct the big pubcos to stop charging its pubs rent and will the Government commit to extend the furlough scheme for as long as pubs and restaurants have to remain closed or for as long as their incomes are affected by social distancing measures?’

Replying in the House of Commons, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘The Honourable Member is absolutely right that companies in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector are the most hardest hit during this crisis.

‘Of course, they can avail themselves of all the various interventions we’ve put in place more generally.

‘The one specific benefit they have, for most of these businesses rent is a significant part of their cost structure which is why we have given them a complete business rates holiday for this entire year.’

From schools to social gatherings, how the lockdown could be eased

Ministers face continued questioning over the UK’s plan for lifting its coronavirus lockdown, as European countries begin to ease their own restrictions.

Italy and Spain are among those planning small steps to relax measures, but the Government has so far declined to publish an exit strategy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said lockdown will only be eased if the country can meet five tests: falling death figures, a protected NHS, a reduced rate of infection, sufficient testing and PPE, and avoiding a second peak of the virus.

The next three-week review of the lockdown restrictions is due on May 7. Here is an overview of what has been discussed across various sectors:

– Schools

Under lockdown, schools and colleges have largely been closed, except for the children of essential workers, and it is thought this could be among the first restrictions to be eased. But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson previously said the Government had ‘no plans’ to open schools over the summer period, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it would be ‘inconceivable’ without some further measures in place. Head teachers have previously been advised to start making preparations on how schools could safely reopen, with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) suggesting a staggered return of pupils, with Year 6s, Year 10s and Year 12s phased in first, if permitted.

– Construction

Some of Britain’s largest housebuilders, including Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Redrow, have already announced plans to reopen building sites in late April or early May. Under Government guidance, construction has been permitted if in accordance with social distancing rules, but many companies halted work in response to the crisis. The Home Builders Federation said the restart is expected to be gradual, being dependent on how far supporting suppliers and services, such as building inspectors, mortgage lenders and conveyancers, can also return to work. Activity will also be limited until the Government changes advice which effectively prohibits all but exceptional house moves.

– Offices

Property services provider CBRE has drawn from its experiences in Asia to issue guidance to workplaces on how offices might approach re-opening in the future. It advises against a ‘full throttle’ return to work, with social distancing measures needing to be reduced gradually and in line with public health guidance. It suggests businesses should establish internal taskforces to consider issues around access to PPE supplies, touchless technologies, temperature screening and reconfiguring work environments.

– Social gatherings

Limited social gatherings could be permitted in an easing of lockdown, but should be accompanied by extensive testing and contact tracing, one expert has suggested. Dr Joshua Moon, research fellow in sustainability research methods in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, said the Government could adopt a ‘slow release valve’ approach to the issue. He explained a phased approach might see certain sections of the population, for example healthy middle-aged people, given more freedoms initially, but he warned this risked the most vulnerable suffering the hardships of lockdown the longest. Dr Moon said family ‘clusters’ could gradually be permitted to socialise, but could not make long journeys to do so, while most businesses remained shut. ‘The idea is that within those groups you can quite easily test, trace and isolate,’ he said, adding that it was harder to monitor for people moving around in public.

– Hospitality

Sector representative body UKHospitality has focused its energies on getting business support extended to places like bars and restaurants. A spokesman suggested that even if venues were allowed to open with reduced capacity, businesses would still struggle financially. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism has launched an urgent inquiry into how the sectors could reopen. This includes looking at operational challenges, reactivating supply chains, Government support and encouraging demand. A report is expected by mid-May.

– Retail

Ministers are thought to be considering allowing some non-essential businesses to open, such as garden centres and car showrooms, provided social-distancing could be maintained. Lobby group the British Retail Consortium has produced guidelines on how stores could prepare for the easing of restrictions. The guidance draws on lessons learned from supermarkets in recent weeks to ensure the re-opening of non-essential firms can be done safely. Advice covers limiting entry and exit points, using floor markings to outline social distancing and keeping changing rooms closed. The guidance also suggests installing cleaning stations with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes at the front of stores.

– Sport

It is understood Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been working on a plan for major sports to be played behind closed doors when some social distancing rules are eased. Weekly meetings are to be held between the Government, Public Health England and medical officials from sports bodies, with the issue due to be on the table when ministers review current measures next month. Key questions that need to be tackled include testing requirements, burdens on emergency services and the possible impact on fan behaviour – such as impromptu gatherings outside grounds. Sporting bodies are understood to be keen to resume full training safely as soon as possible.

– Travel

Last week, low-cost European carrier Wizz Air announced plans to resume some flights from Luton Airport on May 1. Cabin crew will be required to wear masks and gloves on all flights and will distribute sanitising wipes for passengers, while new distancing measures will also be introduced during boarding. Mr Raab has indicated that officials are looking at possible checks at air and sea ports, with passengers arriving in the UK required to quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union warned there was ‘zero chance’ of ramping up transport services soon, amid speculation of an increase on May 11 or May 18 when a new rail timetable is due. Last week, industry sources said no dates have yet been agreed or announced.

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