Westminster council extends outdoor dining scheme

Westminster City Council has extended its outdoor dining scheme in London’s West End until the end of October to help restaurants and bars trade more easily.

The scheme was due to be wrapped up at the end of September but has been extended by a month to the end of October after both local residents and hospitality businesses backed the extension.

“We’re working closely with our residents to support local businesses, the backbone of our communities, and will continue to do all we can to help them,” said Rachael Robathan of Westminster City Council.

“That’s why we have decided to allow the extension of the schemes that we have in place to support al fresco hospitality for all businesses that wish to continue using them until the end of October.

“We will always put the health of our residents and visitors first while doing everything possible to support our city through these very challenging times,” she added.

The measures of the al fresco dining scheme were first outlined in June and launched in 4 July when restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen in the UK.

The council’s catchment area covered nearly 4,000 licensed premises in Soho, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Paddington, and Marylebone.

According to the Evening Standard, the extension means the partial pedestrianisation of 17 streets in the district will remain in place until the end of October.

The Evening Standard reports that the scheme has helped 90% of the area’s hospitality businesses to continue to trade, saving more than 2,000 jobs.

The welcome news for the capital’s hospitality sector comes after it was delivered a crushing blow last week, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all restaurants and bars in England had to close by 10pm.

Put in place to try to stem the rising tide of coronavirus cases across the country, the trade have dubbed the 10pm curfew as tantamount to “a death sentence” and “shooting the wounded” sector while it struggles to get back on its feet.

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