THOUSANDS more pubs will be able to open next month after ministers tore up rules so gazebos and marquees can go up without planning permission.
Town halls have also been ordered to let bars and restaurants spill out on to pavements for a booming al-fresco April from the 12th.
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Whitehall figures suggest the bonfire of red tape will allow 9,000 additional venues to open next month rather than having to wait for indoor serving in May.
On a record-smashing vaccine roll-out day that saw 660,276 people jabbed — nearly one per cent of the UK population — Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick told The Sun his plans were “a shot in the arm for our wonderful pubs”.
An incredible 26,263,732 Brits — a whisker short of half of all adults — have now had their first jab.
They include PM Boris Johnson, yesterday given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at St Thomas’ Hospital near Downing Street.
Another 528,260 Brits got a first dose yesterday. And 132,016 got their second — taking that total to around two million.
Giving a double thumbs-up, masked Boris, 56, declared: “Thank you to all of the incredible scientists, NHS staff and volunteers who have helped make this happen.
“Getting the jab is the best thing we can do to get back to the lives we miss so much. Let’s get it done.”
Speaking outside the hospital, he added: “I didn’t feel a thing. It was very good and very quick.
“I cannot recommend it more highly. When you get your notification please go and get your jab.”
Reassuring Brits that the Oxford jab is safe, despite unfounded blood clot fears, he said: “Don’t just listen to me, listen to what all the scientists and European Medicines Agency say.”
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, 53, and chief Brexiteer Nigel Farage, 56, were also jabbed for the first time yesterday.
Today ministers unveil their “gazebo offensive” to help more venues open up when pubs are able to serve outdoors from April 12.
Any venue, even if it is listed, can put up a marquee or structure of any size on their land without planning permission, and keep it up till September.
Side panels will need to be open for ventilation, but paperwork is not an issue after ministers ordered councils to back down on threats to cripple the reopening with red tape.
Getting the jab is the best thing we can do to get back to the lives we miss so much. Let’s get it done.
In another major boost, venues with pavement access can put out tables and chairs for dining without having to go through the tedious public consultation process that usually takes weeks.
They can notify their town hall and carry on serving if they do not hear back in ten days.
A new £56million Welcome Back Fund has also been earmarked to help towns and cities get ready to throw open their doors.
Councils will be able to apply for cash to hold beer and food festivals in high streets to get people back to shops.
Cash will go to town halls to put up more outdoor seating and keep spaces Covid-secure.
Flowers can be planted, graffiti scrubbed off and cash plugged into parks to get ready for the big unlocking.
Mr Jenrick said last night: “We have cut needless red tape to make it easier for pubs and restaurants to set up marquees, making the most of outdoor space and giving more people the chance to enjoy a meal or pint.
“Every pub in the land can now erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer: A shot in the arm for our wonderful pubs.”
He added: “I am hugely grateful for the spirit and strength that business owners and communities have shown this year.
"And I want to thank Sun readers for their support of their local high streets over this challenging year.”
The drastic binning of rules was welcomed by the pub industry — itching to get back serving but worried about the April showers.
Greg Grundy, boss at The Egremont in Worthing, West Sussex, said the move was great news for landlords and punters.
He added: “Brits love a beer garden, but in April the weather can be a bit dodgy, so marquees and gazebos will become must-have accessories.
“Letting pubs avoid the hassle of planning red tape means it will be green lights all the way to a glorious spring and summer of al-fresco drinking.
“People are desperate to get back to their local. Our phone has been ringing off the hook since Boris announced his unlocking plans.
“Fingers crossed the Great British weather holds out!”
'LONG WAY TO GO'
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “It’s good news for pubs, as we move towards the outdoor reopening, that rules around outdoor spaces will be more relaxed, particularly given the vagaries of the April weather.
“We would urge the Government and local councils to work with publicans to ensure as many people as possible are able to return to the Great British pub.”
And Nik Antona, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “The news that pubs will be able to put up marquees without planning permission is great.
The Sun says
GETTING vaccinated fills most of us with enormous pride in Britain.
The jabs programme still has so far to run, but there is a sense of huge achievement in the combined endeavour of the drugs’ UK inventors, the Government and all those NHS medics, admin staff and volunteers.
Our vaccination centres are being superbly run, thanks not least to The Sun’s own Jabs Army.
Boris Johnson experienced all this first-hand yesterday when he had his own Oxford shot. As he did so it was revealed we had hit a staggering new daily record of 660,276 doses.
Imagine it: Almost one per cent of the UK population protected in one day.
Our rollout leads the world — and gives us hope of being the first major Western nation to emerge from the Covid hell.
That, and our own mental health, will be helped enormously as rules are torn up next month to allow 9,000 more pubs and restaurants to reopen by throwing up Covid-secure marquees and gazebos to serve punters outdoors.
What unalloyed joy, after the misery of this locked-down winter.
But we feel nothing but sorrow for the luckless citizens of the EU facing a third wave and calamitous new restrictions thanks to their leaders’ jab blunders.
Last month France said the Oxford jab was no good for over-65s.
Yesterday it said it was ONLY safe for over-55s.
Every day the fiasco there worsens.
"We’re looking forward to getting back to the pub, and hope as many people as possible will turn out to support their locals and clubs from April onwards.
"Try some local beers and ciders, and enjoy the social and wellbeing benefits of pub-going.”
But he warned: “The industry has suffered immensely over a tough year of lockdowns and restrictions, and there’s still a long way to go to ensure the pub and brewing industry get back on its feet.”
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