Coronavirus: No date set for when Welsh pubs can reopen

Work is “ongoing” on when pubs can reopen but no date has been set, a Welsh Government minister has said.

Wales is the only one of the UK nations without a planned reopening date for the pub trade.

Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives have called for a timetable.

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said discussions were taking place with the industry. “I want to reassure you that the work is actively ongoing,” she said.

The Welsh Government has promised a “rapid review” to consider a phased reopening.

On Wednesday the Scottish Government announced beer gardens could reopen there from 6 July, and pubs and restaurants can fully reopen from 15 July.

The hospitality sector is due to reopen in England from 4 July, while in Northern Ireland pubs and hotels can open on 3 July.

Ms Evans said timings could not be provided in Wales “because it’s very, very difficult to know where the coronavirus will be in the weeks and months ahead”.

Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru’s economy spokeswoman, said she would welcome a similar approach to Scotland.

“If Welsh Government does not believe this is a possible step, I would look for an alternative timetable to be confirmed as soon as possible,” she said.

“Plaid Cymru has been consistent in our assertion that public health should come first, but our economy sits on a cliff edge and we’ve never had a clearer signal that it may be safe to act to save it.”

Darren Millar, Welsh Tory Covid recovery spokesman, said: “The lack of an indicative timetable for the reopening of pubs and restaurants in Wales is now a major concern.

“If Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland have managed to set out a timetable for these businesses to reopen safely then Wales can too; I urge the first minister to give those whose employment is at risk some hope by setting out a timetable today.”

Ms Evans, speaking at the daily Welsh Government press conference, said discussions were taking place with the industry.

“I can’t give you a timetable or a date but I want to reassure you that the work is actively ongoing with the hospitality sector.”

Each stage of the reopening after lockdown had been co-ordinated, she said, adding that talks were happening to see if more outdoor seating could be provided in town and city centres to help the hospitality industry.

She said each UK nation was taking a different approach, citing building work and non-essential retail being open in Wales but closed in Scotland.

Shops in Scotland are opening on the 29 June.

Last week Brains brewery warned many Welsh pubs would go bust – putting thousands of jobs at risk – unless social distancing measures are relaxed.

Alistair Darby, the chief executive officer of Wales’ largest brewery, said: “All business needs certainty and we aren’t getting that at the moment, and the longer the uncertainty continues the more people are going to lose their jobs.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The first minister has asked for a rapid review of the hospitality sector to consider a potential phased reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Those discussions are taking place with a wide range of interests across the hospitality sector in Wales and have been constructive. We will announce our intentions when further headroom for change allows.”

“We have adopted a careful and gradual approach to easing the restrictions. We will be guided by the latest scientific and medical advice and will carefully monitor the impact of each change,” she added.