June 23, 2020 / 2:57 PM / 14 days ago

Don't let the pub reopenings go to your head, warns UK PM Johnson

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was keen to enjoy a visit to the pub and urged people to go out and enjoy their new freedom to socialise next month, but cautioned that they would still need to act responsibly.

On Tuesday, Johnson said pubs, restaurants and hotels could reopen in England from July 4, easing the coronavirus lockdown that has all but shut the economy since the middle of March.

“Frankly I can’t wait to go to a pub or a restaurant, even if it may not be wholly compatible with the new diet that I’m on,” Johnson said at a news conference.

“I think people need to go out and I think they need to enjoy themselves, and rediscover things that they haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

The government will relax its social distancing rules so that drinkers need to stay one metre apart instead of two - something pubs and the hospitality trade have lobbied hard for so they can get more customers through their doors.

Visitors to pubs will have to provide their contact details, although exact guidelines have yet to be published.

Johnson also listed getting a haircut to his trademark shock of blond hair as one of his priorities, and said the government was working to find a way to allow other higher-risk activities like playing cricket and visiting the theatre to resume.

“I want to see bustle, I want to see activity, but let’s be absolutely clear that I also want to see everybody being careful: stay alert and follow the guidance,” Johnson said.

“We can’t have, you know, great sort of writhing scenes in the beer gardens when the virus could be passed on.”

Reporting by William James,Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison

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