Campaign calls on government to transform UK streets into a Grand Outdoor Café

15 May 2020 by
Campaign calls on government to transform UK streets into a Grand Outdoor Café

A campaign, led by music venue The Piano Works and supported by UKHospitality, is calling on the government and operators to support a campaign to transform public spaces and streets into al fresco dining spaces.

Organisers behind #UKGrandOutdoorCafé, which is supported by operators including Brat, Albion and East and The Breakfast Club, are urging hospitality operators across the country to support the campaign which they say "will safely re-start the UK hospitality industry" while complying with physical distancing regulations.

Alan Lorrimer, founder of live music venues The Piano Works in London's Farringdon and the West End, said the initiative aimed to "safely get people back onto our high streets and into our town and city centres" and has called on the government to issue a directive to grant local authorities a temporary deregulation to allow tables and chairs on pavements, squares and open spaces outside existing bars and restaurants.

Lorrimer, who said his business was "totally dependent on the government" for its survival, added: "With the government's help we can break down the barriers of nervousness and anxiety slowly. Dining and drinking outside whilst enjoying the great British Summer is an exciting and safe place to start on our journey to recovery."

Under the proposal, operators would be allowed the flexibility to extend their current licensing conditions and trading hours with no additional fees charged and zoning regulations until September. In effect, selected spaces would become designated pedestrianised zones, allowing the public to enjoy "physically distanced" meals and drinks with members of their household safely.

The campaign also asks that "strolling musicians" be allowed to entertain outside guests at the Grand Outdoor Café venues so that the "huge community of unemployed musicians" have a way of recouping some of their lost earnings.

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive said she had raised the proposal with DCMS and BEIS "to see if we can take this forward".

Despite the government's announcement that the hospitality industry can start to reopen with physical distancing measures in place from 4 July, it is believed that many operators will struggle to survive with reduced capacities while others may not be able to survive at all.

The proposal follows reports last week that Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, was to be turned into a "giant open-air café" after local authorities agreed to allow bars and restaurants to set up tables outside free of charge to comply with physical distancing regulations.

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