The City of London Corporation has said it will explore reallocating some street space to alfresco dining as part of its plan to safely reopen restaurants, bars and cafés in the Square Mile from 4 July.
The news follows an announcement two weeks ago that the governing body of the Square Mile had revoked all 138 Tables and Chairs Licences to help pedestrians meet Covid-19 distancing requirements. The suspension was due to be reviewed towards the end of June.
The City of London Corporation's Planning and Transportation Committee has now said that a "bespoke approach must be taken to consider the resumption of outside trading in the City while social distancing rules remain in place" and has agreed that licences may be reinstated following a case-by-case review considering five principles:
- To put safety first
- To recognise the need to nurture a thriving economy in the City
- No privatisation of public space
- Having regard to space required to queue outside premises
- Having regard to new or existing public seating nearby.
A variety of qualifying factors will be considered, including the width of space available, footfall and any queues likely to form for nearby shops and attractions that might obstruct physical distancing. Now that social distancing guidelines have been reduced to one metre, it is thought that the number of premises able to qualify will increase.
Alastair Moss, chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, said: "We know the resumption of outdoor dining will be a welcome shift, but it is vital that the return of social spaces continues to be safe for all workers, residents and visitors to the City.
"We are ready to support the safe, sustainable and gradual return of people to the City, as it again becomes the thriving world-class centre for business."
He added that the plans would be kept under review as government legislation and guidance changed.