Greene King will reopen 442 pub gardens next month as the government reopens the hospitality sector to business – almost four months after national restrictions were imposed.
The brewer said the move marks the first step towards normal trading, under the government’s roadmap to lifting restrictions by June 21.
On Monday, April 12, 442 of Greene King’s managed pubs outdoors in England will return to trading, with customers able to book a garden table online from March, 26.
It said while guests are encourage to book in advance, most outlets will also have availability for walk-in visitors.
However, almost all will operate with reduced opening hours and menus due to ongoing limitations.
Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said two thirds of the chain’s boozers remain closed until May, subject to government approval.
The majority are outlets that do not have outdoor drinking areas.
“It’s great that we can finally open outdoor areas in some of our pubs after such a long period of lockdown and we can’t wait to start welcoming our customers back, safely,” Mackenzie said.
“Sadly, we can only open around a third of our estate in April where we have outdoor space that will work and have a chance of being viable, but we know the vital role pubs play in communities and feel it’s important to open as many as we can to help people get back together once again.”
Boris Johnson’s ‘Rule of Six’ will be reinstated under step two of his lockdown roadmap, meaning people will be able to mix in groups of six – or two households – outdoors when pubs reopen.
Mackenzie added: “We look forward to May when we can open many more of our pubs, and the all-important return to normality in June when the restrictions are fully removed, and we can start to rebuild our businesses. Until then, we all have our fingers crossed for sunshine and warm temperatures in April!”
The move comes after rival JD Wetherspoon confirmed plans to reopen 394 pubs with beer gardens, rooftops and patios in England from April 12 – see the full list here.
Branches will open from 9am to 9pm from Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, although some will have restrictions on closing times.
They will offer a slightly reduced menu, with food available from 9am to 8pm seven days a week.
Customers will be able to order and pay through the Wetherspoon app, and staff will be able to take orders and payment at the table.
Elsewhere, restaurant chain Byron said 18 restaurants will reopen on April 12 for outdoor dining, while Wagamama will also follow in the same footsteps.
Byron said it has partnered with Brooklyn beer bars to allow visitors to drink outdoors, too.