The head of a popular chain with pubs across south east London said "laughable" plans for outside only reopening are “not viable”.

The Government is considering releasing restaurants, pubs and bars from lockdown after Easter by exclusively allowing outdoor service, according to reports in national newspapers.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s, which runs seven pubs across Chislehurst, Lee and Greenwich, dismissed the approach, calling on the Government to “start listening to the sector.”

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Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said: “Outside only is a continuation of the lockdown for the majority of pubs.

“This is not viable, and the Government needs to start listening to a sector that employs 3.5 million.

“Outdoors, when it’s cold or raining, is a non-starter.

“We are not a Mediterranean country; this is little old England.”

Young’s runs The Bickley and Bull’s Head in Chislehurst, Coach and Horses, Cutty Sark, Richard The First and Old Brewery in Greenwich, as well as The Crown in Lee.

The company runs more than 200 pubs, mostly in the South East.

Mr Dardis, 61, told MailOnline that the business is losing £5m each month, despite state support.

Other industry leaders, including Wetherspoon owner Tim Martin, joined Mr Dardis in their criticism of the reported proposals.

Mr Dardis added: “Every pub company in the land is burning through millions and millions of pounds every month we are closed – and most cannot afford to keep going for much longer.

“On what basis are they making these rules?

“It is just laughable – as was the 10pm curfew, as was the nonsense about what a “substantial meal” was.

“When pubs opened last summer more than £500million was spent [making them Covid-safe].

“But there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the infection rate grew as a consequence of pubs being open.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab indicated on Sunday that allowing people to socialise outdoors and the reopening of non-essential shops would also be early priorities as controls eased.

A Government spokesman said: "We are deeply disappointed that some pub leaders have decided to step back from meetings with ministers.

"As we plan our way out of restrictions, we will continue to engage relentlessly with the hospitality sector, as we have done throughout this pandemic."