NEW measures could see pubgoers forced to drink away from the bar, if hospitality firms are to re-open on July 4.

In proposals put forward to Government ministers yesterday, customers could be stopped from drinking at bars and restrictions would see the number of children in outdoor playing areas limited.

The initial plans, put forward by trade group UK Hospitality, have been met with mixed reaction across south Essex.

Kerry Smith, deputy leader of Basildon Council, called for pubs to be re-opened as soon as possible.

Mr Smith told the Echo having a pint in a pub should be a basic human right, but Matt Dent, a Southend Labour councillor, urged the Government to err on the side of caution.

The potential measures also include patrols of smoking areas to help venues meet coronavirus guidelines.

Mr Smith said: “It’s good for landlords for the pubs to be open. We have to live through the lockdown.

“Pubs are hubs for the community, people need to look out for each other.

“Now we’re getting to grips with the pandemic, pubs should be getting going again.”

Mr Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward, added: “I struggle to think how these measures solve the problems which were why they closed in the first place.

“Is not better to wait and have them open fully?

“Every hospitality venue has a lot of moving parts.

“Any attempt to rush the reopening of pubs risks a second wave.

“Opinion will be split on whether it’s a good idea.

“It should not be left in the pub owner’s hands for whether it’s safe for them to open.

“You could open pubs and restaurants with a quarter capacity, but would owners want that. More financial support would be needed if that were the case.”

The proposals for also cover the re-opening of restaurants, with the plans suggesting condiments would not be left on tables, with individually wrapped sauces and condiments handed out by staff on request.

Restaurants would also need to bring cutlery with customers’ food, rather than leave them on tables or allow customers to help themselves.

Tables would also be spaced in the restaurant to meet social distancing guidelines.

It also proposed that customers are “discouraged” from returning empty glasses, customers are told to keep a safe distance away from bar staff and they will have to form a socially-distanced queue for orders.

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson said that some hospitality firms could be able to reopen from July 4 at the earliest in the Government’s third phase of the lockdown.