Thursday 22 October 2020 4:46 pm

Square Mile to relax al fresco dining rules in bid to save bars and restaurants

Save our SMEs

The City of London hopes to revive the Square Mile’s beleaguered hospitality sector by relaxing its al fresco dining rules. 

Bars and restaurants will be able to make more efficient use of outdoor space, helping them comply with strict Tier 2 rules, under which people from different households cannot meet indoors.

Read more: Ready to order? Business lunches may be exempt from new Tier 2 restrictions

The changes include reducing the minimum space required for pedestrians to pass and relaxing policy around outdoor heating. 

The City of London Corporation says it will review the changes once footfall, which remains a fraction of pre-Covid levels, returns to the Square Mile.

Sophie Fernandes, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Licensing Committee, said: “The hospitality sector has endured very difficult times over the last few months and I hope this change…  gives venues extra flexibility to help [bars and restaurants] keep trading over the winter months.”

Read more: Tier 2 dining: heated terraces to meet for a covid-safe meal

It is unclear how many businesses will benefit from the new legislation, however. The City of London Corporation declined to comment when asked by City A.M. how many businesses are likely to be affected.

City restaurateur Martin Williams, owner of M restaurant on Threadneedle Street, said the al fresco dining changes will make little difference to struggling businesses. 

He said: “The City of London Corporation needs to do everything it can to put pressure on both the mayor and the Prime Minister to remove tier 2 restrictions and revert back to Tier 1 and the rule of six. 

“There is little use in relaxing outdoor space rules until people are encouraged to return to work and the City gets moving again. The businesses in the city of London are grinding to a halt as are the restaurants, so it’s time to step up and support.”