Last month, it was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that hospitality venues will reopen from 12 April for outdoor service only.
Depending on the continued speed and efficiency of the vaccination programme, by the 17 May, pubs and restaurants will be given the green light to offer indoor seating. Social distancing has created pent-up demand from consumers, with various establishments already fully booked for months after lockdown.
With the British public preparing for a rollicking summer and the supportive measures announced in the Spring Budget, including the extension of pavement licences – the latter half of 2021 is set to be an exciting period for the hospitality sector.
A booking boom
Pubs in England have been permitted to sell takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages before 23:00 GMT under the current lockdown restrictions. While this has enabled many businesses to stay afloat throughout the crisis, it is evident that Britons greatly miss the experience and sense of community associated with pubs and restaurants.
Upon the announcement of the government’s roadmap, one pub in Leeds reported that it had taken 700 bookings in a mere five hours. Fuller Smith & Turner, which owns and operates around 400 pubs across the country, also said in a statement: “People are clearly keen to get back to the pub and where we are opening our gardens and patios on 12 April, we’ve seen a high number of people pre-booking their tables.”
With an abundance of customers raring to dine at their favourite pub or restaurant, adequate outdoor seating will be required. Thankfully, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that he intends to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months to help the hospitality industry recover once lockdown restrictions are lifted. These will allow restaurants and cafes to put removable furniture outside their venues on pavements.
The consultation period for licence applications will be reduced from 28 calendar days to 5 working days and automatic deemed consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision. The fee for applying has also been capped at no more than £100.
Local councils were told last summer that they could issue speedy pavement licences for a minimum of three months – up to a year, until September 30, 2021. Upon its approval, the new extension will mean that businesses can operate outdoors until the autumn of 2022.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing pubs, cafes and restaurants open again as we start to gear up for what should be a great British summer.”
– Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick
Other support measures
The Communities Secretary has urged English councils to do “everything possible” to get ready for high streets to reopen when step two of the lockdown easing roadmap happens. As a result of this, a variety of other supportive measures have been unveiled.
Councils across England have been given a £50 million fund to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces. The money will support a range of practical safety measures, including new signs, street marketings and temporary barriers – these will help staff and customers feel secure when venturing onto Britain’s streets.
The government also plan to introduce a level of flexibility to Britain’s high streets. This means that buildings can be converted into commercial, business and services facilities without the need for planning permission. Our high streets and town centres will therefore be able to adapt with little friction – the greater speed will allow for a hastier economic recovery. Outdoor markets, marquees, pop-up car boot sales and summer fairs will also be allowed without the need for a planning application.
At Targetfollow, we look at the current news regarding the hospitality sector with great optimism. The Pantiles of Royal Tunbridge Wells has been a consistently popular dining destination for centuries – eating or drinking outside, sitting beside the historic colonnade is a picturesque experience that customers eagerly await come the reopening in April.
As asset managers and commercial property owners, we appreciate the support issued by the government. We believe this, combined with the great enthusiasm of the general public, will set the groundwork for a successful summer.