In order for hospitality businesses in Westminster to continue trading whilst distancing is in place, the local council will be implementing a number of measures to create space for pavement dining, it has said.

In its hospitality business recovery proposal released yesterday, the council – which covers high-density hospitality borough’s including Soho, Covent Garden and Marylebone – said it will look to introduce timed street closures and pavement widening to create the space needed for restaurants to put tables and chairs outside.

The council has said it will support the use of tables and chairs on the pavement, and whilst sites must have a license to do so, a fast-track pavement dining application process will be introduced.

Operators looking to sell alcohol in an outside space will have to apply for a variation to permit off sales, a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) or a new premise licence.

Several streets throughout the district have already been put forward for temporary timed closures from 11am-11pm (Covent Garden) and between 5pm-11pm Monday to Friday, 12pm-11pm Saturdays and 12pm-10:30pm on Sundays (Soho), but the council has said it is open to consider suggestions of further closure areas.

Timed closures, widening of footways and an extension of outdoor seating and private licenses are also being put forward for streets in and around Leicester Square, St James’s, Oxford Circus, Marylebone and Paddington.

We fully understand how difficult this process will be for businesses and the proposed measures in this document begin to outline how we will help,” read the document. “It will be crucial to the successful recovery of the city that we do this within the guidelines set by government to ensure we do not risk a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

“But we must also provide the public with reassurance that it is safe to come back and enjoy the hospitality that Westminster is famous for.

“Some businesses will not be able to come back to full trading immediately and we reiterate that these measures are not cast in stone. We will be flexible with our approach and work closely with our businesses to change interventions if they are not working.”