Restricted opening of bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants
Potentially on Saturday 4 July, the Government may allow bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants to reopen, but there is still some debate as to what will be permitted, what social distancing measures will be adopted and in what form.
Whatever the case, it is almost certain that there will be a requirement to maintain some form of social distancing (currently set at 2 metres separation), although there is speculation that this may be reduced before 4 July.
It is clear that whatever measures are put in place, the internal standing or seating capacity of your premises is likely to be considerably reduced and this in turn will raise challenges for your business.
One of the ways forward could be to make use of the outside areas of your premises, such as pavements and other open spaces. We are looking to work with you to consider the feasibility of increasing the amount of available space in Hereford and the market towns that may be used for pavement cafes and bars and would encourage you to consider this as an option for your business.
Both the council as the licensing authority and the police are keen to support reasonable proposals, but want to ensure that this is done in a safe way, which will protect both your customers and your staff, as well as the public and local residents. This is likely to take the form of a variation for those businesses with a premises licence for alcohol, although we may suggest temporary event notices are applied for in the short term.
Pavement café licences
Regardless of alcohol being served or not, there will also be a requirement to acquire a pavement café licence from the council if you intend to apply for six or more items of furniture to be placed on the highway or public realm, for example tables and/or chairs.
Our officers and the police are keen to discuss plans for reopening and would be available to visit your premises and offer free technical advice as to how this could be best achieved. If you wish to expand seating into public spaces we would like you to draw your proposals as a scaled plan drawing showing where tables and seating could be located. We suggest this plan is based on two scenarios - firstly if social distancing remains at a distance of 2 metres and secondly if the government relaxes it to a distance of 1 metre.
Please email your scale plan drawing to email@example.com with the name of your premises, your name and phone number and if possible your plans and proposal. One of our officers will then contact you and make an appointment to come and visit you as soon as possible and free of charge.
Our highway colleagues are independently consulting the market towns on the reallocation of road space, which may help support any proposals for outdoor pavement seating.
We are also considering how planning rules can be initially relaxed to facilitate outdoor seating for the hospitality sector and will be able to advise on this in due course, as we wish to support and encourage businesses to utilise the open space in our historic city and town centres.
We hope this will help you to make your business viable in the face of the current Covid-19 restrictions.