City Corporation enables winter outdoor dining in the Square Mile

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The City of London Corporation has doubled down its efforts to help the hospitality sector through the winter, with an urgent amendment of its Al Fresco Eating and Drinking Policy.

In July it was agreed that a bespoke approach was required for the resumption of outside trading in the City while social distancing rules remained in place.

Licenses have been reinstated following a case by case review considering five principles: 

  • To put safety first
  • To recognise the need to nurture a thriving economy in the City
  • No privatisation of public space
  • Having regard to space required to queue outside premises
  • Having regard to new or existing public seating nearby

A variety of factors including the width of space available, footfall of pedestrians and any queues likely to form for nearby shops and attractions is always considered.

The changes, that will come into effect immediately, will reduce the minimum space required for pedestrians to pass and will allow many more premises to be eligible for a pavement license. Ample space for those with access needs will continue to be maintained.

This pavement width amendment reflects that current footfall remains below pre-Covid levels, however the required width will remain under review as footfall increases again.  

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Outdoor heating will also now be permitted when adequate risk assessments are in place.  

Alastair Moss, Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: “The Covid-19 virus is likely to be with us over the winter and so we need to find a way of living with it. 

“People’s health remains paramount, but so is the need to keep the economy open. 

“We hope these improvements will enable more City cafes, restaurants and pubs to safely and comfortably cater for those residents, workers and visitors who wish to eat in the Square Mile. 

“Those who wish to socialise outside in groups in a convivial setting and enjoy the legendary hospitality our businesses offer, while adhering to relevant Government restrictions, will now be able to do so.” 

Sophie Fernandes, Chairman of the Licensing Committee, said: “The hospitality sector has endured very difficult times over the last few months and I hope this change in outdoor City policy gives venues extra flexibility to help keep trading over the winter months ahead.”

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