Outdoor meals and drinks could become a permanent fixture in England after the government said it would extend ‘pavement licenses’ to help the resumption of pubs, bars and restaurants affected by the pandemic.
The plan is part of a hotel strategy, announced on Friday, targeting an industry that has lost 10,000 premises, given up £ 87bn in sales and cut more than 350,000 jobs across the UK since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Last year, restaurants, pubs and bars were granted temporary leave to serve guests on sidewalks, helping to offset the impact of indoor space lost due to social distancing requirements.
While restrictions on hotels and other sectors are due to end in England from July 19, sidewalk licenses will be extended for one year until the end of September 2022.
The change could become permanent, the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said, although it would require legislation.
Pubs will also benefit from a 12-month extension of temporary permissions, also granted during the pandemic, which allow them to sell pints and take-out meals.
The MHCLG presented the plans on Friday as it launched a hospitality strategy that will be overseen by a board of industry leaders and government officials, including young business minister Paul Scully.
The strategy includes plans to boost recruitment in an industry that has been hit by staff shortages, despite massive job losses over the past 18 months.
Job seekers will be directed to reception offers through the Ministry of Work and Pensions, while the government will seek ways to improve training in the sector, including through apprenticeship and T-level qualifications.
At the same time, the government is launching a £ 150million fund to help communities save local pubs threatened with closure. Neighborhoods will be able to team up to raise money to save their pub, with the government matching their investment up to a maximum of £ 250,000.
Kate Nicholls, managing director of business body UK Hospitality, said: “The pandemic has devastated the hospitality industry, and businesses are desperate to bounce back strongly and return to profitable business. “
She said the strategy would help place the area at the heart of efforts to regenerate shopping streets, which face an uncertain future amid challenges such as rising rent debt, staff absences due to testing. and traceability, and an evolution towards online sector ordering.
The MCHLG said its hotel strategy will also include helping businesses reduce emissions and plastic waste, as well as measures to spur innovation by forging links between hotel startups and universities.
According to industry analysts CGA and AlixPartners, nearly 12,000 hospitality venues in England still cannot open under current restrictions, but can do so from July 19.
The change means more than 8% of the UK’s 143,000 sites will be freed from restrictions.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also expected to lift restrictions in the coming weeks, although Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has maintained a midnight curfew in pubs and bars in from July 19, with face coverings and a social distance of 1 meter remaining mandatory indoors.