Pubs across the UK could remain closed until Christmas as the country continues to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The possible lockdown extension on the popular venues comes after cabinet minister Michael Gove warned that pubs and restaurants in the nation would be ‘among the last’ to see the restrictions placed upon them relaxed.
The move comes as another 596 coronavirus deaths were today announced in the UK – bringing the total number of people who have died from the virus in the country to 16,060.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Gove, said that ‘areas of hospitality’ would be among the last to exit the government’s lockdown restrictions.
Pubs across the UK could stay shut until Christmas as the country continues to control the spread of the coronavirus
He said: ‘The other inference that I draw from your question, which is areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lock down, that is true, they will be among the last.’
Also speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge, the cabinet minister tried to dampen any speculation over the government’s plan and said it was ‘too early’ to make decisions about easing the lockdown.
Sharing his support for a public debate over the easing of lockdown restrictions, the cabinet minister added: ‘Entirely understandable of course that there should be a public debate about how we approach these difficult choices.
‘The most important thing to do is to make sure that we proceed in a way that is guided by science and one of the things we need to have are all the facts all the data in front of us to know what would be appropriate to do at what time.’
Following the announcement, Frank Maguire from Truman’s brewery in London, told The Sun: ‘Things are looking pretty dire. At this rate it seems unlikely we will be open again before Christmas.
The possible lockdown extension comes as another 596 coronavirus deaths were today announced in the UK
Today cabinet minister Michael Gove tried to dampen any speculation over the government’s plan and said it was ‘too early’ to make decision
Pictured: The Elm Tree in Burridge, Southampton, displays a sign outside on a chalk board saying ‘we will meet again some sunny day’ after it is closed due to the coronavirus crisis
‘Christmas is about as big as business gets for the pub industry. It will be a huge loss.
‘January and February are dead months — with- out Christmas to carry us through, we will struggle. It will be a very glum start to 2021.’
The possible extension comes as Ireland’s health minister, Simon Harris, also cautioned that while they would try to get children back to school as soon as possible, places where people ‘can’t safely social distance’ will likely have to stay closed for some time.
The health minister also said that he did not see ‘how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us.’
Mr Harris told the Irish Independent: ‘I’d like to see a situation whereby our schools could come back or at least could come partially back.
‘What’s not going to come back quickly are scenarios in which we can’t safely socially distance.
Ireland’s health minister Simon Harris said places where people ‘can’t safely social distance’ will likely have to stay closed for some time
‘So I can’t see how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us and we don’t have a vaccine or an effective treatment.’
The warning came amid fears many pubs in Ireland – which employ 58,000 people – could go bankrupt before they re-open.
The Irish Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said if the lockdown were to continue, many pubs would be out of business.
He said: ‘If that happens then most pub businesses in this country will be out of business for good.
‘The LVA will absolutely support whatever measures are deemed necessary in the interests of public health… but if closing pubs until 2021 is going to be necessary, then it is essential that a specific pub support scheme is introduced.
‘Otherwise, there won’t be a pub industry in this country by the time a vaccine is found.’
Earlier today, Sir Jeremy Farrar, a government scientific adviser, offered encouraging news to Britons in lockdown as he said the country is over the peak – yet warned of future waves if social distancing falls by the wayside.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: ‘I think the probability and what we must be planning for is that there will be further waves of this in the future but for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilised about a week or two ago and the number of hospitalisations maybe a week or so ago.
‘Yes, tragically, there are still far too many people dying but the number of people dying in this country and actually in many countries in the world, is now either stabilising or starting to come down.
‘That is good news, we are probably just past the peak in many parts of this country as is true in many parts of the world and we’ll come off that and numbers will reduce but that has only happened because of the public’s respect for and following the advice around the social distancing and lockdowns.
‘If we were to release those lockdowns too soon, whilst the infection rates are still high and there are still people in the community who have got infected, then the epidemic will come back again, it will come back very quickly.
‘It would rebound within a few weeks or a couple of months so it is critical that people are – and they are, the public is really respecting the advice and it is that which has led to the change in numbers.
‘These things don’t happen by chance, they happen because of what we’re all doing and the public deserves great thanks and respect for that.’