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City centre could see increase in pavement cafes to aid social distancing

Written by News

A rise in takeaway services and the costruction of “outside pavement café-style seating areas” are among measures being contemplated by Newcastle City Council to ensure the hospitality sector can operate safely and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

While all non-essential shops reopened on 15 June, the hospitality sector remains closed after the Prime Minister announced the start of lockdown three months ago. The government has also clarified that pubs will not be allowed to open in June as rumours had been suggesting. Despite this, plans are being formulated now to ensure the industry is ready when lockdown does lift for them.

This follows fears that the hospitality industry will struggle financially, given its extended closure and its inability to maintain social distancing measures without significant operational changes being made.

Councillor Nick Kemp, Cabinet member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, acknowledged that the hospitality industry is one area which “will have the hardest time adapting to the ‘new normal’”.

Some of the changes Kemp mentions are “a takeaway service” and “outside pavement café-style seating areas”, to ensure that businesses can safely reopen in the future. 

Councillor Ged Bell added that “our city is resilient and ambitious, and we know businesses are determined to succeed.”

One new idea, to have cafés open seating areas on the pavement, requires planning permission from the council’s highways department, which takes, on average, eight weeks. The highways department would then also have to consider creating additional space for cyclists and walkers. 

The council is considering specific ideas for individual businesses, allowing them to tailor plans to ensure that each site is able to reopen safely.

Due to the financial setbacks for pubs, cafés and restaurants, caused by the lockdown, the council is also asking the government to review late night levy fees. These are fees attributed to all businesses that sell alcohol between midnight and 6am, to contribute towards the cost of late-night policing, anti-social behaviour and the cleaning of streets. 

Last modified: 22nd June 2020

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