Outdoor dining to return from April 12 across the centre of London

A total of 60 roads — including 17 in Soho alone — will be transformed into traffic-free zones once again, that’s according to the Evening Standard.

We know that when pubs and restaurants were opened last year it led to about a 3% increase in cases, although it makes sense to open up again this time with dining outside there is no reason why restaurants can’t be reopened.

Full article below…

Dozens of streets across the West End will be closed to traffic from April to the end of September to turn them into alfresco dining boulevards.

Westminster council bosses have decided to repeat last summer’s scheme when a total of 60 roads — including 17 in Soho alone — were transformed through temporary closures and pavement widening.

It will start on April 12, when outdoor dining and drinking is scheduled to begin again under the Government’s plan for the reopening of the economy.

The daytime and evening closures will include Dean Street, Old Compton Street and Greek Street in Soho, Lisle Street in Chinatown, St Martin’s Lane and Maiden Lane in Covent Garden, and Chiltern Street in Marylebone.

Last year, the scheme ran from July until October to help the hospitality sector, when bars and restaurants were restricted on the number of people they could accommodate inside.

More than 560 Westminster premises were issued with pavement licences that allowed them to put seating outside.

The Tory-run council said it would be looking to simplify the process of applying for outdoor seating, particularly for those that applied last year, so that they will be able to run from the first day of reopening.

The local authority said it would also “consider the possibility of what a longer-term alfresco provision could look like and would be “consulting communities as and when designs are created and as the city recovers”.

Council leader Rachael Robathan said: “Hospitality is a major employer in Westminster, supporting about 80,000 jobs. But with shutters down and doors barred, this sector has been among the hardest hit.

“We are relaunching our alfresco scheme as soon as the easing of restrictions allows to help struggling businesses as much as we can. We have more pubs, restaurants and bars than any other local authority area — about 3,700 — and we want to see them welcoming back customers in a safe way.

“The majority of our residents have supported these schemes in the past and we hope they will understand the need to continue the temporary measures until the end of September.”

The scheme was popular with traders last year although some residents complained about rowdy late-night behaviour.

The only restrictions this year will be a new “rule of six” limit on outdoor dining groups until May 17 and a seated table service-only rule until June 21.

However, there will be no 10pm curfew or need to have a “substantial meal” with a drink.