Pub-goers will adhere to social distancing measures “even after a couple of drinks”, a Tory minister has suggested.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary and MP for Great Yarmouth, claimed that all his constituents were “well behaved and sensible” and would observe the coronavirus lockdown despite many restrictions being lifted.
It comes as Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that all pubs in England will be allowed to reopen from 4 July onwards if they introduce new social distancing measures.
“If we are able to say to pubs that they are able to open in the near future we will be issuing guidelines as well so they can gave some confidence about what is expected of them to create a safe environment both for their staff and customers,” Lewis told the BBC’s Nick Robinson during an appearance on Radio 4.
“Our pubs industry is fantastic. They are always very focused on the health, experience and safety of their customers and staff.”
He suggested pubs would be expected to follow the lead of retail shops and put in place “situations and structures” so that people and customers can be safe. This could include a booking system, one-way lanes and even needing to leave your name at the front door.
Lewis dismissed concerns over reports that customers might try to get round such measures by leaving leave fake names to avoid being identified if they break the rules.
He admitted the rules would be largely self-policed but that customers would be expected to behave responsibly.
“I take the point,” he added, “The reality is we’re all going to have to get used to this new kind of normality where we take self-responsibility to ensure the safety of ourselves and friends and family and the community.
“If we want to be reopen things we will all have to act and behave a bit differently to ensure the safety of all. We all have that self-responsibility.”
The prime minister announced in the Commons that pubs would reopen for the first time since March early next month.
He said: "I can tell the House that we will also reopen restaurants and pubs. All hospitality indoors will be limited to table service and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.
"We will ask businesses to help NHS test and trace respond to any local outbreaks by collecting contact details from customers as happens in other countries and we will work with the sector to make this manageable."
In his closing statements he said: "Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops, the bustle is starting to come back and a new but cautious optimism is palpable.
"But I must say to the House it will be all too easy for that frost to return, and that is why we will continue to trust in the common sense and the community spirit of the British people to follow this guidance, to carry us through and to see us to victory over this virus."
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