More pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers outdoors in plans announced by the government.

New laws will help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs safely

  • Simpler licensing process for outdoor seating for pubs, restaurants and cafes
  • Councils encouraged to reduce red-tape and create more outdoor markets
  • Government plans to support outdoor dining as part of efforts to help the economy bounce back from coronavirus
  • Part of comprehensive plan to revive high streets, support the hospitality industry and help get people back to work

More pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers outdoors in plans announced by the government last week (25 June 2020).

The government will simplify and reduce the costs of the licensing process for outdoor seating and stalls, making it easier for people to safely drink and dine outside. 

Proposed planning freedoms will mean that outdoor markets, pop-up car-boot sales or summer fairs will not need a planning application, which will transform the way people shop and socialise.  

Pubs and restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licenses.

Temporary changes to licensing laws will allow many more licensed premises, such as pubs and restaurants, to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises. Customers will be able to buy their drinks from a pub and consume them elsewhere, making social distancing easier.

These measures will give an immediate and much needed boost to many businesses, whilst supporting them to successfully reopen over the summer.

This builds on support introduced in March allowing many food and drink business, including pubs, to offer a takeaway service. Additionally, these changes will support hospitality staff return to work safely, revive businesses and provide a real boost to high streets affected by the pandemic. 

This Bill is the next step to enable people to socialise this summer and enjoy the best of British hospitality in a COVID-secure way – helping businesses get back up and running and employees return to work.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:    

I know we all look forward to seeing our pubs, cafes and restaurants open their doors again and I’m determined to give them a helping hand to get back on their feet and their staff back to work safely.   

That’s why we are introducing changes to make it quicker, easier and cheaper for them to set up outdoor seating and street stalls to serve food and drink.

Business Secretary Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP said: 

Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of high streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.  

This week we gave our vital hospitality sector the green light to reopen from 4 July, and today we are introducing new legislation to enable businesses to make the most of the crucial summer months ahead.

Transport Secretary Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP said:   

These measures will help create new summer streets and summer squares, providing people with ways to enjoy our high streets and hospitality sector safely. 

Alongside our recently announced £2 billion investment in cycling and walking, this shows a clear focus from the government on using pavements and open spaces to make sure people can get out and about, helping people remain safe while getting back to normal life.

Changes for the hospitality industry introduced by the government will:   

  •  reduce the consultation period for applications for pavement licences to from 28 calendar days to 5 working days, and grant consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision
  • set a lower application fee for a pavement and street cafe licence of up to £100
  • remove the need for a planning application for outdoor markets and marquees, meaning they can be set up for longer
  • provide more freedoms for areas to hold car-boot sales and summer fairs

Councils will need to continue to ensure their communities are consulted on licensing applications, that waste is disposed of responsibly, and that access to pavements and pedestrianised areas is not compromised. 

Last week’s announcement follows a new £50 million fund to support local high streets introduced last month and the government’s decision to extend the working hours of construction sites in order to get the country building again.

If you are a Harborne business and need assistance with reopening your premises, please take a look at our COVID-19 resources page.

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