Westminster City Council have published their guide to reopening the hospitality sector and it contains some potentially great news and forward-thinking ideas. The guide is issued in preparation for the government potentially easing restrictions on the hospitality trade on 4 July. The 4 July was previously earmarked as the earliest potential date for relaxing the current regulations; however, there appears to be a great weight of public support and government energy behind making it happen on that date.
What can we do on 4 July?
This is still not clear as the draft regulations have not been published and this is why Westminster City Council should be praised for their vision on how to provide some clarity for the hospitality sector.
Some of the key points contained within Westminster’s Plan are:
- To support premises to serve as many customers outside as they possibly can in a safe and responsible manner.
- Certain roads will be closed to traffic at certain times of the day.
- Westminster will widen pavements in appropriate areas of the city.
- Local arrangements in areas of high-density hospitality, such as Soho, will be made with venue operators and residents at a street level to ensure there are not clashes in the use of space that cause wider issues.
- Businesses that already have outside trading with tables and chairs can operate without applying for a licence as long as waiter service is provided.
- Pubs and bars will also need to ensure they have a licence for tables and chairs if they wish to have patrons outside of their venue, and again premises may only operate with table service.
- Premises wishing to sell alcohol to seated customers in an outside area will need to have the relevant authorisation issued by the council to permit those sales. If you already hold a premises licence that authorises the sale of alcohol off the premises, then you will be able to supply alcohol to these customers.
- You will need to apply for a variation if your licence restricts you to selling alcohol inside your venue only.
- The area customers can use must be clearly defined both on a pre-agreed plan and on the street. The area must be in front of the premises which is intending to trade, unless there is clear agreement from neighbouring businesses or residents to use other space outside other frontages. Any proposals must allow space for access to any adjoining premises or separate parts of the same building with sufficient space for social distancing.
- Premises must keep the area used for trading and adjacent areas free from waste during trading. At the end of trading they must sweep and wash this area to ensure the street is left in a presentable state for other users.
What Westminster want to avoid:
- Westminster City Council want to avoid a situation where any business can trade on the streets as this would quickly become unsustainable.
- They also state they are committed to addressing cumulative impact and this is particularly important when social distancing measures remain in place.
It is crucial therefore that you check the following:
- Does your premises licence permit off-sales?
- Do you require planning permission to place tables and chairs on the highway including any extended area you may agree to use?
- Do you have a tables and chairs licence in place?
Further clarification is required
We await further announcements on precisely what can be done and will report back as soon as there is clarity. Hopefully, the government will amend the requirement for applications to be made but at the time of writing, you will need to make applications.
For further information, please contact Marcus Lavell and Andrew Wong.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.