Pubs could open up sooner under plans to 'fast-track service in beer gardens'

Pubs in England could re-open sooner than we thought (Picture: Getty Images)

Pubs could be given fast-track approval to serve food and drink outside which will allow them to open up sooner.

The government plans to do away with the need for a 28-day minimum statutory consultation period to expedite this move, the Times reports

The newspaper added the policy would also be accompanied by Sunday trading laws being suspended for a year to stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

Downing Street is said to be drawing up legislation to enable larger supermarkets to open for more than six hours on Sundays.

People are seen buying takeaway pints at a pub on Wandsworth Common (Picture: Getty)

The plans would also mean pubs can change their premises quickly to be able to serve outside.

They were meant to reopen no earlier than July 4 but the new policy could bring this date forward.

The masterminds behind the plan are said to be chancellor Rishi Sunak and business secretary Alok Sharma.

They will also make it easier for properties on the high street to be changed for a different use, for example from residential to shops, according to the report. 

Former prime minister David Cameron was forced to drop plans to extend Sunday trading hours in 2016 after suffering a humiliating Commons defeat which saw 27 Tories joining forces with opposition parties.

The news comes amid fears over the coronavirus reproduction rate in parts of England, as new data suggested the R value is now around one in the North West.

The value used by the government remained between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK as a whole, though the figure has a two to three-week lag, meaning it does not account for the latest easing of the lockdown.

But a separate report from Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University, which estimates what the value is currently, put the North West on 1.01 and the South West on 1.00.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the daily Downing Street press conference that new figures on the R confirm “there is a challenge in the North West of England to address and, to a lesser degree, in the South West of England”.

He said the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) believes the R is below one across the UK but the Government wants to “increasingly have an approach in tackling local lockdowns where we spot a flare-up”.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms

How easing of lockdown rules affects you

In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal

How public transport could look after lockdown

How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here

10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety

What to do if you think you have symptoms

How to get help if you've been furloughed