The mayor of Liverpool has announced plans to create more European-style covered outdoor seating areas in the city to help businesses make up for the internal space they will lose as a result of social distancing restrictions.
Mayor Joe Anderson has today announcing a new £450,000 project to redesign Liverpool's outdoor spaces, working with Liverpool BID Company and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as designers.
The easing of restrictions on bars and restaurants is not expected until early July, but the city is "keen to start getting itself ready to be as accessible and safe as possible in the coming months". The move is hoped to "ensure many independent bars and restaurants are able to continue trading safely".
The funding is separate to, but will be aligned with a government allocation of £443,000 for Liverpool from the ‘reopening high streets safely fund', which can be used for things such as signage, street markings and marketing campaigns.
Details of the criteria for the fund are being finalised and the process for being part of the pilot project will be announced in mid-June, once the phased reopening of retail in the city has begun and the impact been assessed.
The money is coming from existing budgets, by repurposing capital spending to give businesses practical support for the Covid-19 emergency and alleviate the impact on the local economy.
It forms part of a wider recovery plan – more details of which will be announced in the coming weeks – to make sure that businesses in the city are given the best possible chance of survival.
The council has so far distributed more than £80m of central government funding to more than 6,500 small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
Anderson said: "We need to find a way to give local people the confidence that they can continue to go out to eat, spend money in the local economy and have a good time safely. This is really important as we know that tourism is going to be badly affected by international travel restrictions."
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network said: "It is really important that we continue to support the hospitality sector through a difficult period when, as they have told us, their focus will be very much on staff and stock and they won't necessarily have the spare cash to spend on items they need to help deal with the consequences of social distancing measures."
Granting ‘blanket' permission for restaurants, pubs, cafés and bars to use pedestrianised streets for outdoor dining across the UK is being considered by housing and local government minister Robert Jenrick.
The #UKGrandOutDoorCafe campaign, led by Piano Works founder Alan Lorrimer, has called on the government to allow local authorities to permit hospitality operators to use open spaces and squares around their venues to serve food and drink.