Published on 27 April 2021
Under the Government's roadmap out of the third Lockdown, venues such as pubs, cafes and restaurants reopened on Monday 12 April 2021, with customers being served seated at tables in outdoor spaces in their household group or bubble.
Hospitality businesses are looking for ways to increase seating for their customers and many are setting up marquees, gazebos and other structures in order to provide outdoor seating space with adequate social distancing.
Hospitality businesses in Stratford District are being encouraged to work with Stratford-on-Avon District Council to make sure their temporary outdoor seating areas don't fall foul of COVID-19-secure rules - and help protect customers and staff.
The District Council's Environmental Health and Licensing teams are continuing to advise cafes, pubs and restaurants on how they can safely promote the use of their outdoor space for drinking and dining in line with Step 2 of the Government's roadmap out of the third Lockdown.
Temporary changes mean that businesses such as pubs can set up a marquee for up to 56 days without the need for planning permission until 31 December 2021. To be classed as 'outdoors' any structure must be substantially open, having at least 50% of the area open to the air. Any temporary structures erected need to be suitable and safe for use.
Hospitality businesses can achieve this extra outdoor space through the District Council's temporary pavement licence and/or the permanent pavement permit regimes to use space on the highway, or making use of privately-owned land such as pub carparks - Pavement Licence | Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Cllr Anne Parry, Regulatory Portfolio says: "Hospitality business have welcomed the relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions that has allowed them to reopen, but they must ensure customers are served outdoors. This has led to businesses finding creative solutions to ensure the 'alfresco' drinking and dining experience is more enjoyable for their customers.
"One of the greatest risks that businesses face is that the structures they put in place become too enclosed and the outdoor space is then no longer considered an actual outside space. If this occurs, these areas will not be usable until pubs, cafes and restaurants can serve customers indoors, and this will be no earlier than Monday 17 May 2021.
"Ventilation is key to controlling the spread of the virus, and this is why the restrictions are being relaxed in outside areas first. It is really important that groups do not sit in enclosed areas until the Government is in a position to determine whether Step 3 of the roadmap can be implemented: hospitality businesses have a key role to play in helping us to achieve this successfully."
Businesses also need to consider normal safety measures such as ensuring that any patio heaters used under gazebos and marquee roofs are designed for this purpose, and only used in line with manufacturers' instructions, to ensure they are operated safely. Similar consideration should be given to electrical appliances or fittings sited outside, such as mains-powered lighting, to ensure that they are properly installed. All adaptations need to be considered as part of an explicit risk assessment.
Furthermore, as businesses make more use of their outside spaces, they should remain considerate of their neighbours who are potentially spending more time at home, and take steps to minimise the risks around noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Parry concluded by saying: "We want to ensure that all hospitality venues are as safe as possible for people in Stratford District. These measures will not only protect the physical safety of customers and staff, but significantly they will help to limit the risk of coronavirus transmission and help us move forward out of the third Lockdown in line with the current roadmap."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575