Pubs are reportedly set to reopen in May – but with the controversial 10pm curfew scrapped this time.
Boris Johnson is said to be targeting early summer for boozers to allow punters back inside, while takeaway pints will be allowed in April, it has been claimed.
It comes after the government was heavily criticised over complex rules last year, with pubs in many parts of the country only allowed to serve customers who bought a “substantial” meal.
Downing Street estimations show half of all adults in Britain will have been vaccinated by May and 32 million over 50s and the vulnerable by the end of April.
The British Beer & Pub Association claims 87 million pints of beer have been wasted since the pandemic started, setting the industry back £331 million.
Whitehall sources told the Sun the plans were in “early days”.
One added: “If pubs are to reopen for good they’ve got to do it properly and can’t be stuck in limbo like last year.”
According to the Telegraph, meanwhile, pubs and restaurants could be green lighted to open up again by April if they agree not to sell alcohol as part of a “booze ban”.
The plan is being considered as part of No10’s roadmap for lifting lockdown in time for Easter, due to be revealed on February 22.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and others are said to be concerned that alcohol hinders the possibility of effective social distancing.
The manic scenes last summer as pubs re-opening could otherwise be once again on the cards, some in government reportedly fear.
Scotland’s indoor alcohol ban, introduced in October, is said to have been highlighted during tourism and hospitality recovery group meetings as a possible way forward.
It is seen as an alternative to keeping pubs and restaurants closed until later in the year when the vaccine roll-out is widespread.
News of the discussions come as many Conservative MPs continue to demand ministers find a way of re-opening the hospitality sector – which employs 3.2 million – as soon as possible.
“The discussion that is live now is how early do you go versus how tough are the restrictions,” one insider told the Telegraph.