Westminster Council sets out further measures for outdoor dining spaces to address 'crowding concerns'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Westminster Council sets out further measures for outdoor dining spaces to address 'crowding concerns'

Related tags: Westminster city council, Restaurant, London, Al fresco, Coronavirus

Westminster Council says it will be asking businesses operating an outdoor service to implement a ’no seat, no service‘ policy, and enforcing a clear ‘no licence, no trade’ message.

The council had previously given hospitality businesses the green light to create safe outdoor dining zones for the summer months​, which came in effect following the easing of lockdown restrictions on 4 July.

The plans include temporary permission for restaurants and cafes to set up tables and chairs outdoors, alongside "soft" road closures across high-density hospitality areas such as Soho, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden and Marylebone.

According to the council, 3,700 venues across Westminster reopened their doors on 4 July.

However, it says that 'while much of the busy weekend remained safe and successful, certain streets in Soho experienced isolated issues with crowding and concerns about maintaining social distancing'.

As a result, the council says it will be introducing further measures to mitigate crowding concerns and 'keep public safety at the top of the agenda'.

Local venues will be served 'clear reminders' of their responsibilities and new licensing measures, with council officers visiting bars and restaurants to enforce a clear message of ‘no licence, no trade’.

Demarcated enclosures will be installed around outdoor seating areas in central locations, ensuring that the space in the street is occupied only by those who are using tables and chairs and allowing venues to take responsibility for their own al fresco areas.

Customers will be asked to book and plan ahead when visiting key dining areas, only going to venues when they have booked a table and space has been accounted for, and not gathering in streets where crowds could pose a threat to public health.

The council adds that it will be asking venues to implement a ’no seat, no service‘ policy.

“Last weekend we saw a vast reopening of London’s most famous hospitality areas, with a large majority showing a safe and successful example of the new normal for the city’s bars, cafés, and restaurants,” says councillor Matthew Green, cabinet member for business and planning.

“At the same time, we saw isolated instances of crowding in some of our busier areas. This is something that cannot happen again as we must ensure the safety of the public as a result of the Covd-19 pandemic.

"As we look ahead to this weekend, we will be ramping up efforts to remind venues of their responsibilities and the licensing rules. We also want to encourage visitors to the West End to enjoy the outdoor spaces provided by the council to bars and restaurants in safety and not to drink shop-bought alcohol on the streets.

"Let me be clear: there is no festival in Soho. Social distancing is still in place and now is not the time for street parties but for everyone to play their part in supporting the safe reopening of hospitality businesses that have been hard hit.

“Public safety is paramount and if these temporary plans don’t work, we won’t hesitate to go back to the drawing board, which we are sure no one wants to happen. So let’s all work together and keep the West End and Soho in particular safe and open.”

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