Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said that restaurants and pubs across the UK will not open until July 4 at “the very earliest”.
The tentative plan to allow cafes and restaurants to reopen in the third phase of the lockdown easing could also include pubs, the foreign secretary suggested for the first time.
Told publicans would “go under” otherwise, Mr Raab said: “You are absolutely right.”
And he told Sky News: “Starting from 4 July at the very earliest, those are the sectors that are inherently more difficult because people are mixing together and it is difficult to maintain social distancing.”
Mr Raab also sparked further confusion about the controversial instruction for staff to return to work from today if possible – saying it would now come in on Wednesday.
He also referred only to people working “in construction and manufacturing” returning, with guidance to be published later on creating secure workplaces.
One of the biggest overnight criticisms of Boris Johnson’s TV address was that it gave workers only 12 hours to potentially prepare to return, with public transport largely shut down.
On Sunday night, the prime minister said: “We will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”
However, it had been suggested that pubs would be excluded from the plan – which was, in any case, “subject to further scientific advice” and coronavirus cases continuing to fall.
In a series of confusing interviews, Mr Raab also contradicted Downing Street by saying somebody would now be allowed to meet both their parents in a park, provided they stayed two metres apart.
On Sunday, aides said the relaxation would only apply to one other person from a different household – potentially requiring people to pick a parent to meet.