Martin Williams, chief executive of Gaucho, added: “There is clearly a groundswell of people who over the last two to three months have really started to appreciate how much they love restaurants and what they bring to their lives.”
However, he warned that restaurants are likely entering a honeymoon period and will require further support from both government and landlords to ensure the industry’s survival in the longer term.
As part of the easing of lockdown restrictions from July 4, Mr Johnson said people should continue to remain two metres apart where possible, but a “one metre plus” rule will be introduced.
People will be encouraged to use “mitigation” such as face coverings and plastic screens between tables, and to avoid sitting face-to-face when they are less than two metres apart.
Pubs and restaurants will be required to operate a seated service when they reopen and customers will be asked to register their details before entering a premises.
Cinemas will also be allowed to reopen from July 4, but both Cineworld and Vue said they will start showing films from July 10.
Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the relaxation of social distancing rules, but warned it would mean added costs for small firms forced to buy screens, face coverings, hand sanitiser and other protective measures.
He said: “The Government should come forward with back to work vouchers to help businesses recover these costs.”
Richard Caring, the restaurateur behind The Ivy and Annabel’s nightclub, urged the Government to publish detailed guidance on how the industry should reopen safely as soon as possible.
He said: “We’re thrilled that the social distancing policy has been reduced to one metre but we don’t know the full details yet.”
Mr Caring said his restaurants will hold off from announcing a firm reopening date until the full guidance is published.