Temporary licenses brought in during Covid to allow pubs, cafes and restaurants to serve food and drink on pavements and pedestrianised roads are to be made permanent next year, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said.
The licenses were first introduced to help businesses keep operating during the pandemic and were due to expire in September. However, they will now be extended until they are made law in the spring.
Secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Greg Clark said: "We want to see bustling town centres across the country and that’s why the changes we made to licensing rules will become permanent.
"Making al fresco dining a permanent fixture on our high streets is part of our plan to level up communities and create vibrant places people want to live and work."
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls welcomed the news as hugely positive, saying: “Any help that the struggling hospitality sector gets right now is gratefully received, and making pavement licences permanent is hugely positive, offering potentially business-saving opportunities to hundreds of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.
“Vital in enabling businesses to trade during the pandemic when they might otherwise have been forced to close or restrict their opening hours, these licences can now benefit town and city centres by helping local economies recover faster, contributing to levelling up.
“Pavement licences also highlighted the hospitality industry’s ingenuity and creativity during Covid, as many venues invested heavily to develop fun, innovative outdoor spaces. Those farsighted businesses can now look forward to maximising the return on those investments.”