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Westminster City Council outlines reopening strategy for hospitality

Published:  17 June, 2020

Westminster City Council has outlined the measures it plans to implement in order to help hospitality businesses continue trading while social distancing remains in place. 

The published proposals include the temporary closure of a number of roads to make room for pavement dining.    

The Council said it would close some roads to traffic at certain times of the day and also widen pavements in “appropriate areas” of the city. 

This, it said, would “create the space needed for restaurants, cafes and similar businesses to put tables and chairs outside”.

Roads will be closed using ‘soft’ measures which can be installed and removed at the beginning and end of each timed period, such as barriers and cones, with these areas “marshalled as required”.

Local arrangements in areas of high-density hospitality, such as Soho, would be made with venue operators and residents at a street level, it stated.

“This will ensure that there are not clashes in the use of space that cause wider issues. This approach will see clearly agreed proposals on the space operators can use.”

Although the Council is proposing a selection of key locations, it said it would welcome proposals for “certain smaller streets to be included where this is practicable”.

While the Council said it could not allow vertical drinking (people standing and drinking) outside venues, as it believes this would lead to a contravention of the government guidance on social distancing, it said it is considering proposals from businesses without existing tables and chairs licences where it can clearly be shown how it could be managed responsibly.

Operators will still need planning consent and a tables and chairs licence, but the Council said there would be a fast track authorisation process. 

At the same time, it said Premises Licences would need to be varied to authorise off sales of alcohol to new seating areas if not already permitted.