Plans debated for re-opening the hospitality sector

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Government ministers are continuing to debate whether pubs and restaurants can reopen external areas, such as beer gardens, terraces, dining areas and marquees, to serve customers on 22nd June, as opposed to the original target date of 4th July, in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Although nothing official has been published confirming this, and Business Secretary Alok Sharma appeared to suggest this was unlikely earlier today, several reports do still suggest that a growing group of ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are exploring ways in which this can be accelerated.

In addition to this, it has been claimed that the Communities Secretary will be reviewing and relaxing planning controls to make it easier for premises that benefit from outdoor spaces to utilise these areas to serve and trade. This follows recent ongoing calls from a cross-party group of MP’s requesting that current planning regulations are eased to allow businesses to place tables and chairs outside of their premises, providing they had consent from the local authority. Earlier speculative reports had suggested that the Government is devising a plan to grant a “blanket permission” to allow food and drink outlets – that already benefit from a tables and chairs license – to utilise outdoor seating areas and trade from market-like stalls outside of their premises. Again, there is no current understanding at this time as to which rules are to be potentially amended.

Alan Lorrimer, founder of The Piano Works venue, has launched the UK Grand Outdoor Café campaign asking the Government to permit authorities to allow hospitality operators to make use of open spaces and public squares outside their venues to serve food and drinks. It is understood that this has been widely supported by a number of businesses throughout the industry. This accompanies a plan put forward to Westminster Council by the managing director of Soho Estates, to temporarily pedestrianise London’s West End to create a large outdoor café-style area in a bid to reopen the hospitality sector in time for summer.

Should this be forthcoming, it will prove particularly beneficial to many clients within the hospitality industry by allowing them to restart or increase trading from their premises, as well as via continued deliveries/collections.