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Pubs may remain closed for a further five months due to fears over social distancing, it's emerged.

With the nation in lockdown, Brits have been told to stay at home until at least mid-February, although it's believed lockdown measures are most likely to remain in place until late March.

Pubs are likely to be one of the last businesses to reopen, with government ministers apparently looking at the first bank holiday in May as a possible reopening date.

A source told  The Sunday Times : “The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.”

It comes after takeaway pints were banned last week as part of lockdown measures introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It would be yet another devastating below to the hospitality industry
(Image: Getty Images)

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Alcohol orders can no longer be placed for delivery or takeaway from pubs and restaurants, which was allowed in the previous lockdown.

It's another devastating blow to the hospitality industry, and will likely result in further businesses unable to stay afloat.

With coronavirus cases continuing to increase in most parts of the country, lockdown rules being strengthened has not been ruled out.

A toughening of measures could mean curfews, nurseries being closed, support bubbles being banned, face masks being made compulsory in all busy outdoor areas and exercise limited to one hour.

Pub group Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said the government must step up and extend the business rates holiday beyond its current end date in April, and cut VAT when doors finally open again.

“The pub sector has been closed for much of the last nine months and remains in a very difficult position,” he said.

“Regrettably there have been casualties across the sector and it is vital that the government reviews urgently the opportunity to continue to support pubs as we reopen the economy in the coming weeks.

Social distancing is likely to still be in place when pubs do reopen
(Image: Getty Images)

Takeaway pints were banned last week as part of lockdown measures
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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“Pubs are viable businesses which are part of the social fabric of Britain and which make a major contribution to the economy and the communities in which they serve.

“It is vital that they not only survive the short-term crisis but are supported in order to recover and flourish.

“Extending the business rates holiday and VAT cut for the rest of this year is a minimum requirement.”

Earlier this week the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said the ban on takeaway pints during lockdown could be the “death knell for many pubs”.

Camra chairman Nik Antona said the Chancellor’s one-off grant support of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses was “welcome” but added: “It is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries.”

“The national lockdown is yet another devastating blow for an already struggling industry, which follows hot on the heels of nearly a year of restrictions, curfews and forced closures," Mr Antona added.

Pubs may not reopen until May, it's been claimed
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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“It is clear now more than ever that the Government must introduce a new, long-term and sector-specific financial support package to help these businesses survive the coming months.

“While one-off grant support is welcome, it is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries that don’t see any end in sight.”

Also responding to the latest lockdown restrictions and financial support, Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) chief executive James Calder said: “This is simply the next blow after months of struggle for England’s community pubs and small breweries.

“For the first time in lockdown, the Government intends to ban takeaway alcohol sales, which have been a lifeline to these small businesses.

“Sales through takeaway, click and collect and drive-through have enabled many to just about survive up to now.

“This reversal in policy directly discriminates against small businesses while allowing supermarkets to continue to sell beer from global breweries.”