English pubs’ reopening dilemma: how to mix alcohol with social distancing

The Dove pub in west London could only squeeze four people inside — and that was before coronavirus. The coziness that was once a blessing for the smallest public bar in Britain is now a curse.

With the government requiring that customers stay two metres apart when England’s pubs reopen on July 4, the doors of The Dove, which is owned by Fuller’s, one of the biggest operators, will remain firmly closed.

But tens of thousands of other pubs will embark on a balancing act laced with danger: how to get enough customers through the door, keep them safely apart and, at the same time, serve them alcohol.

Chris Tofalli, landlord of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in St Albans, a 30-minute train journey north of London, is not optimistic.

“The only way it would happen is if I employ 20 staff on every single point to watch everyone,” he

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UK government issues urgent call for ‘shovel-ready’ projects

The UK government has issued an urgent call for “shovel-ready” projects to help the economy recover from the severe damage wreaked by the coronavirus lockdown.

In the first glimpse into its economic stimulus plans, the government has asked elected mayors and local business leaders in England for ideas that would create jobs and be finished within 18 months.

The Financial Times has seen the letter sent on June 10 by Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, to mayors and the 38 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), who are responsible for economic growth. Proposals are requested by June 18, underlining the urgency of the economic crisis.

As well as schemes previously pitched for government funds, “we are willing to consider exceptional, additional shovel-ready capital projects that can be delivered within 18 months”, the letter said.

“Where considering new projects, these must deliver on two overarching objectives — driving up economic growth and jobs and

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English retailers tiptoe towards reopening

A woman in a wheelchair and her companion approach the entrance to John Lewis in Kingston, south-east England. But they are not customers. They are staff, rehearsing how the department store will interact with shoppers on Monday when it open its doors for the first time since the country’s unprecedented lockdown began.

Each staff member has been given a “secret mission”, explains store manager Jill Dewar, such as returning an item or seeking technical support for a laptop. Like the customers that John Lewis hopes will return next week, they are met by “greeters” on arrival who ask them to sanitise their hands, inform them of the social-distancing rules in the stores, and warn them if the part of the store they are planning to visit is already full.

Thousands of stores will reopen to the public on Monday after the government gave the green light to most “non-essential” retailers

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Johnson pressed to relax 2-metre rule after UK economy slumps

Ministers and Conservative MPs are turning up the heat on Boris Johnson to cut the two-metre distancing rule after official figures showed Britain’s economy crashed by a record 20.4 per cent in April.

There are concerns that a full-throated recovery is out of reach until there is a proper reopening of the hospitality industry, which will require reduced social distancing rules.

The depth of the economic slump reflects weeks of lockdown after the services sector all but shut down and consumers were asked to remain indoors. By the end of April the economy was about 25 per cent smaller than in February.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged on Friday that the pandemic was having “a severe impact on our economy”, which has lost 18 years of growth.

James Smith, an economist at investment bank ING, said April’s “shocking” GDP fall would be difficult to recover from while businesses operated “below normal

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