The two-metre rule for social distancing will be relaxed to “one-metre plus”, Boris Johnson has announced.
In the House of Commons this afternoon, the prime minister also confirmed that pubs, bars and restaurants would be allowed to reopen from 4 July – the same date as the one-metre ruling comes into force.
The move will come as a relief to the hospitality sector, which has been lobbying hard for the change for several weeks.
Hospitality figureheads have previously said that the difference between opening at full capacity is so significant that it could send some operators bust.
A one-metre distance would allow venues to operate at more than twice the capacity than they would be able to at two metres.
The BBPA, meanwhile, had warned that the future of Britain’s 47,000 pubs were at risk had the change not been made. It has previously said that only 20% of pubs could reopen if social distancing were imposed at two metres.
The one-metre guidance will also ease concerns on back-of-house operations.
Many operators have already reduced menus to account for smaller teams, while some have redesigned workflow and equipment to in order to comply with the previous guidance.
Mr Johnson said that restaurants, pubs and hotels will be expected to introduce partition screens between tables that are situated less than two metres apart, face tables away from each other and reduce the number of people inside at one time.
Hospitality venues will also be limited to table service only, with minimal staff and guest contact details taken on arrival.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Reducing the minimum distance will be a huge help to hospitality. The two-metre rule would have capped capacity for most venues at around 30%.
“That would have been totally unviable for most businesses and would have risked even more jobs and the futures of venues.
“Reduction to one-metre should see most venues able to trade at around 70% of capacity, which could be the difference between failure and staying alive to see out the remainder of the crisis, particularly with added support.”