THE boss of a pub chain has said July 19 should not be “burn your mask day” after the government announced the scrapping of most social distancing rules.

Boris Johnson’s signal of an end to most Covid rules – including compulsory mask-wearing – has left businesses and the public with a host of issues to consider.

Bournemouth-based Kris Gumbrell, chief executive of the Brewhouse & Kitchen chain, said the UK needed to live with the virus but his business would keep some measures in place.

“There are some people coming into the business that are hesitant. We’ll allow people the option to book a table in a Covid-safe way in the pub.,” he said.

“We will work with our guests and we will have masks available for our team to wear where people want that.”

He believed nightclubs would be full but his own customers would be more cautious.

“We want to respect and work with that, so we’re not going to be actively encouraging this ‘no holds barred, burn your masks day’ on July19,” he added.

“We’re about to get a huge influx of people this year and we don’t want to be the kind of super spreader destination for the south coast.”

Kate Brooks, employment lawyer and partner at Ellis Jones in Bournemouth, said: “While there will be no legal restrictions on social contact, employers still have pre-Covid health and safety obligations.

“This will mean that employers will still be under an obligation to carry out risks assessments that are relevant to the spread of Covid.”

It would still be illegal to tell someone to come to work if they had been told by the NHS to isolate.

Employers should encourage staff and customers to wash their hands regularly and should regularly clean surfaces that would be touched. They should use outside space where practical and consider supply of fresh air inside.

Although there would not be a legal entitlement for staff to work at home, those who had been at home since March 2020 could argue that it had become an implied term of their contract.

“Employers may therefore be legally obliged to consider continued working from home in some situations,” she added.

Andy Lennox, who founded the restaurants Zim Braai and Nusara and the industry group Wonky Table, said: “We welcome the ending of restrictions. However, without changes to test and trace rules, this will mean hospitality will continue to struggle with service-related issues.

“The industry deals with constant indiscriminate isolation orders from NHS track and trace, which has taken wholes teams out at a time with little recourse for employers to be able to track down where it was contracted, as it’s not in hospitality.”