We’ll raise a toast when pubs reopen, but it won’t be on July 1

Johnny Foxes…last to close before total shutdown.

INVERNESS pub Johnny Foxes was the last hostelry to close in March and it’ll be the first to reopen. That, is, according its owner, Don Lawson. He has reportedly set a reopening date of July 1 “for alfresco drinks and light dining”.

The prolonged closure in the dead city centre will have been as frustrating and financially damaging for the popular riverside pub as it has been for everyone else.

But is Johnny Foxes intent on re-emerging too fast from its lair?

Mr Lawson said:  “Social-distancing measures will be in place, and we will be providing table service for all food and beverage. Opening times will be noon-11pm.

“We do need to find a balance which secures the wellbeing of our customers, while still allowing us to provide a welcoming experience.

“Our pub may look different when (it reopens), but (it) will be as welcoming as ever! We are busy making preparations, and we await government guidelines.

“The industry and trade associations are currently lobbying to bring in a 1m distancing rule, in place of the current 2m regulation. The World Health Organisation recommends a 1m rule, which has been adopted by most European countries. We will ensure of course that we are fully compliant with social-distancing regulations.

“When we do open, may I respectfully request that you support your local independent pub.”

The key part in these words is “we await government guidelines”.

But government guidelines were provided by Nicola Sturgeon last Thursday, and they did not include pubs reopening on July 1 for alfresco drinks, light dining or anything else.

According to these guidelines pubs will be allowed to reopen in “phase 3” of re-emergence from the lockdown at an unspecified date.

We’re in the very early stages of “phase 1” at the moment and because the First Minister thinks some people are already acting irresponsibly, she’s even threatening to row back on that.

Many – including non pub-goers – will raise a toast to the day when we’re far enough out of the current situation for pubs to get back in business.

But there’s no indication whatsoever that that day, for Johnny Foxes or anywhere else, will be anything like as soon as July 1.

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