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New laws on outdoor eating and drinking proposed

Fish and chip restaurants will be able to serve customers outside more easily under plans announced by the government today.

Temporary laws being proposed will make it more straight-forward for restaurants to apply for “pavement licenses” by reducing the consultation period from 28 calendar days to 5 working days, and grant consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision. The application fee for a pavement licence will be reduced to £100.

In addition, restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas using their existing seating licenses. Planning applications for outdoor marquees could also be removed, meaning they can be set up for longer.

The government hopes that by simplifying and reducing the costs of the licensing process for outdoor seating, businesses will be able to get back on their feet and staff get back to work while making it easier for customers to safely drink and dine outside.

However, 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 is not compromised.

Temporary changes to licensing laws are also being put forward which would allow many more licensed premises to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises, making social distancing easier.

Meanwhile, off-sales, including home deliveries and takeaways, will be allowed in the hours that alcohol can already be sold for consumption on the premises. This automatic extension will eliminate the time and cost to businesses that may wish to apply for a variation of their licence.

Announcing the plans, 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 4 July, and today we are introducing new legislation to enable businesses to make the most of the crucial summer months ahead.”

The Bill will be debated by MPs on Monday.


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