Cafés, restaurants and pubs in the city centre and the waterfront will be able put seats and tables outside as part of a move to help business bounce back following the coronavirus pandemic.
Plymouth City Council is waiving its fee and introducing a speedy temporary permit process to help businesses get ready to reopen. Cafés and bars are currently working to a reopening date of 4 July (it is not legal under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations 2020 to put out tables and chairs before that date) but with social distancing measures still in place, many could find it impossible to operate unless they take outside space.
Councillor Mark Lowry, cabinet member for finance and city centre champion said:
“We want to make it as easy as possible for cafes and pubs to open when they are allowed. Having space outside to serve and observe social distancing could be the difference between surviving and going under.”
Businesses can apply for a free temporary street café permit to put tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises and providing their application looks ok, the council will give them the green light within five days. (There will still be a formal 28 day consultation for new applicants - so that fire and police can be consulted). The new permit will last until 31 March 2021.
Those that already have a valid street café permit do not need to apply, but if they want to extend operating hours or increase the street café area they must email firstname.lastname@example.org with permit details and requested changes.
City Centre Manager Steve Hughes said:
“This is great news. We want people to linger in the city centre and to enjoy the experience of meeting up with people but safely. Watching the world go by while enjoying coffee and a treat is what makes city centre shopping so enjoyable. You do not get that online. Pop in, shop, eat, drink and relax - helping your friends and neighbours make a living couldn’t be easier.”
Patrick Knight, interim manager of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership added:
“Cafés and bars are the lifeblood of the Barbican. We need them and right now they need you.”
The permits have a number of conditions that businesses must meet. They include:
Identifying and agreeing the extent of the area for the permit
keeping the area clean and tidy
using only tables, chairs and barriers
ensuring all customers are seated, no vertical drinking
no barbecues, fire pits or naked flames
no amplified music or sports commentary
ensuring furniture is removed from the pavement by the agreed time
having public liability insurance of £5 million
Businesses must also carry out and submit a risk assessment showing how they plan to follow government guidance on social distancing, including a basic site plan showing the location of furniture. Issuing the permit will depend on how much space there is for people to be able to pass easily including people pushing prams or those in wheelchairs. The Council will monitor the scheme. For more information click here.