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Pub group boss toasts ‘news we’ve all been waiting for’ as UK eases slowly out of lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:33 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:36 23 June 2020

Greene King staff wearing PPE gear  Picture: ADAM SMYTH/GREENE KING

Greene King staff wearing PPE gear Picture: ADAM SMYTH/GREENE KING

The boss of pubs and brewing giant Greene King has welcomed the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions as “a welcome relief”.

Pubs and restaurants are set to re-open under new eased lockdown rules this weekend  Picture: ADAM SMYTH/GREENE KINGPubs and restaurants are set to re-open under new eased lockdown rules this weekend Picture: ADAM SMYTH/GREENE KING

But Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of the Bury St Edmunds-based group, has called for more detail on the government plans to lift bans for certain businesses from July 4.

The three-month closure of pub businesses has hit the industry hard – and there are fears many pubs will never reopen.

MORE – Screens and visors set to make pubs look very different as they re-open to public

“It is great that we finally have the news we’ve all been waiting for – a confirmed opening date for pubs and a change to social distancing from two metres to one,” said Mr Mackenzie.

“It is a welcome relief for pub operators, our team members who want to get back to work and of course our customers who have been missing their local pub.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has been forthright in his criticism of the firm's founder's slavery links  Picture: ADAM SMYTHNick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has been forthright in his criticism of the firm's founder's slavery links Picture: ADAM SMYTH

“We now urgently need the detailed government guidelines so that we can check we have the correct measures in place to reopen safely for our team members and customers.”

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Supermarket-style queues, “pub hosts” and perspex screens at the bar are set to greet returning customers lining up for their first pub pint since lockdown began.

Brewer Greene King said it will be introducing a “pub host”, who will manage the queues, greet customers from one metre away, and show them to their tables.

It and Wetherspoons have said customers will be encouraged to use phone apps to order and pay for drinks, to avoid people congregating at the bar.

Both chains have also said their bars will be fitted with perspex screens, hand sanitisers, and floor stickers indicating a one-way system for moving around the pub.

The government has not yet said whether there will be a limit on the number of drinks one person can buy.

A spokesman for Wetherspoons said staff will ensure “customers are served responsibly”, although they hinted there would be no limit on the number of orders a customer can make.

“Before lockdown you couldn’t order three pints for yourself at one time and that will be the case now,” they said.

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