Alan Lorrimer, founder of live music venues The Piano Works, is asking operators nationwide to support the UK Grand Outdoor Café campaign, which is calling on the government to issue a directive to grant local authorities a temporary deregulation to allow tables and chairs outside existing hospitality businesses.
The idea is similar to an initiative in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, which has temporarily given public spaces to its restaurants and bars to help them comply with physical distancing rules.
UK Grand Outdoor Café will also have a fundraising element that will allow the public to purchase food and drink vouchers for frontline workers that can be used at UK Grand Outdoor Café venues.
The campaign plans to request that operators be allowed the flexibility to extend their current licensing conditions and trading hours with no additional fees charged alongside the relaxing of zoning regulations until September in order for selected spaces to become designated pedestrianised zones.
Operators that have shown their support include The Breakfast Club, St Austell Brewery, Albion and East, Corazon and Poppies but Lorrimer says the campaign will need more wide-reaching support to get government buy in.
Lorrimer says that many restaurants, cafes and bar operators will struggle to survive if they re-open with reduced capacity due to physical distancing regulations.
“We have two hitherto successful 400 capacity late night, non–stop, audience requested, live music venues The Piano Works in Farringdon and the West End, and at present we are totally dependent on the Government for our survival," says Lorrimer.
"They’ve done an amazing job of furloughing our 130 staff, removing rates for a year, delaying VAT payments, and guaranteeing a business loan. But how do we start paying them back if we can’t physically distance our guests, how do we say thank you to our frontline heroes and to the public who have behaved so responsibly."
Operators are invited to go to www.UKGSOC.org to read the full proposal and register their interest in supporting the campaign.