19th May, 2021

Stratford District Council urges businesses to ensure outdoor seating is within covid rules

DISTRICT bosses are reminding hospitality businesses that outdoor seating measures such as gazebos and marquees should not fall foul of covid rules.

Staff at cafes, restaurant and pubs are being encouraged to work with Stratford District Council to make sure their temporary outdoor seating areas are within covid guidelines.

The council says temporary changes mean businesses such as pubs can set up a marquee for up to 56 days without the need for planning permission until December 31. To be classed as ‘outdoors’ any structure must be substantially open, having at least half of the area open to the air. Any temporary structures erected need to be suitable and safe for use.

Hospitality businesses should apply through the district council’s temporary pavement licence or the permanent pavement permit regimes to use space on the highway, or making use of privately-owned land such as pub car parks.

District councillor Anne Parry said: “Hospitality business have welcomed the relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions that has allowed them to reopen, but they must ensure customers are served outdoors. This has led to businesses finding creative solutions to ensure the ‘alfresco’ drinking and dining experience is more enjoyable for their customers.

“One of the greatest risks that businesses face is that the structures they put in place become too enclosed and the outdoor space is then no longer considered an actual outside space. If this occurs, these areas will not be usable until pubs, cafes and restaurants can serve customers indoors, and this will be no earlier than Monday May 17.

“Ventilation is key to controlling the spread of the virus, and this is why the restrictions are being relaxed in outside areas first. It is really important that groups do not sit in enclosed areas until the government is in a position to determine whether step three of the roadmap can be implemented. Hospitality businesses have a key role to play in helping us to achieve this successfully.”

Businesses should also consider normal safety measures such as the use of patio heaters used under gazebos and marquee roofs, as well as electrical appliances or fittings sited outside.

The council is also urging venues to be mindful of neighbours, and take steps to minimise risks around noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

Coun Parry added “We want to ensure that all hospitality venues are as safe as possible for people in Stratford district. These measures will not only protect the physical safety of customers and staff, but significantly they will help to limit the risk of coronavirus transmission and help us move forward out of the third lockdown in line with the current roadmap.”

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