Pubs urge governments to relax social distancing rules
The service industry is pointing to the WHO's one metre guidance
Right now, the UK is one of only two EU countries still urging non-household members to keep two metres apart. Most have begun following the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), that one metre will suffice. It's why, while Italians are back in their espresso bars and pizza restaurants, and Germans are back in their car factories, the UK is still under stringent restrictions.
Unsurprisingly, publicans have had enough. A British pub association is pressuring the government to relax social distancing regulations for pubs on the grounds that it will more than double the number able to reopen on the government’s proposed 4 July. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) claims that changing social distancing rules to one metre would increase the number of pubs that could reopen in July by 120 percent, according to Propel.
Whether this push will be successful is far from certain. Firstly, the current restrictions are broadly supported by the public. Our beaches and parks might be filling up, but 46% of people think that the recent relaxation of rules went too far, and only 10% thought the government could've relaxed things further.
It seems unlikely that the government would go back on their ruling that places that are “crowded by design,” (which includes pubs) will be closed until July. Having said that, the current lot certainly are no strangers to contradictions and U-turns, so nothing is certain.
The biggest issue facing publicans seeking earlier opening is a fairly sticky aspect of epidemiological science. This study suggests that viral load – a measure of how many virus particles are in a given person’s system or space – could necessarily be higher in a busy environment at one metre distance than at two.
If this ruling is successful, the government would essentially be giving one rule to pubs, and another to other businesses... it's a weird and strange time and it doesn't look like anyone knows what's coming next.