Coronavirus: New laws to ease outdoor drinking and dining rules

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Pubs and restaurants will more easily be able to turn pavements, terraces and even car parks into outdoor areas under proposals to boost the hospitality industry in England and Wales.

Outdoor markets and summer fairs will also no longer need planning permission as rules are relaxed.

The government says it will make socialising safely outdoors easier when the hospitality industry reopens.

It will also help struggling businesses in the “crucial” summer months ahead.

Hospitality businesses have been shut since 23 March to battle the spread of coronavirus but will reopen from 4 July as social distancing rules are eased.

However, they will have to meet strict hygiene rules and demand could take time to recover.

With many hospitality businesses warning of closures, the government’s Business and Planning Bill is meant to offer a shot in the arm to the sector.

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Under temporary laws, pubs and restaurants in England and Wales would be able to apply for “pavement licences” more easily so they could put tables and chairs outside their premises.

‘Crucial months’

The consultation period for these applications would drop from 28 calendar days to five working days, with automatic consent granted if there is no council decision after 10 working days.

The application fee would also be lowered to £100 too.

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Pubs in the UK are among hospitality businesses that have been closed for months

Meanwhile, in England only, the government will relax planning laws for outdoor markets and marquees, meaning they no longer need an application and can be set up for longer.

It will also provide more freedoms for areas to hold car-boot sales and summer fairs.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of High Streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.

“This week we gave our vital hospitality sector the green light to reopen from July 4, and today we are introducing new legislation to enable businesses to make the most of the crucial summer months ahead.”

Councils will need to continue to ensure their communities are consulted on licensing applications, that waste is disposed of responsibly, and that access to pavements and pedestrianised areas are not compromised as a result of the changes.

The Bill was laid before Parliament on Thursday and will be debated by MPs on Monday, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed.