Campaign calls for govt to open outdoor areas for bars

20th May, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

A number of bars have pledged their support to the UK Grand Outdoor Summer Café campaign, which seeks to help the hospitality industry restart by transforming public spaces and streets into serving areas.

The new campaign is seeking for the UK government to allow food and drink to be served in outdoor areas

Established by Alan Lorrimer, founder of late night London venue The Piano Works, the new campaign aims to allow the use of public areas and streets as outdoor dining and drinking spaces for the industry.

In an open letter to Alok Sharma, UK secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Lorrimer called for the government to allow local authorities to permit hospitality operators to use open spaces and squares outside their venues to serve food and drinks.

In response, Robert Jenrick, the UK secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, said he will now consider a ‘blanket’ permission for restaurants, pubs, cafés and bars to use pedestrianised streets for tables and chairs.

CG Restaurants & Bars, the owner of the Dirty Martini cocktail bar chain, Revolution Bars Group, Aspirational Pub Company, Livelyhood Pubs, Remarkable Pubs, D&D London, Barrio Bars and Oakman Inns are among the pub, bar and restaurant operators supporting the campaign.

Lorrimer said: “We have two formerly successful 400-capacity late night, non-stop, audience requested, live music venues, The Piano Works in Farringdon and the West End, and at present we are totally dependent on the government for our survival.

“They’ve done an amazing job of furloughing our 130 staff, removing rates for a year, delaying VAT payments, and guaranteeing a business loan. Our landlords and suppliers have been hugely supportive as have our bankers Santander. Without their faith, help and goodwill we would not be here ready to re-open. But how do we pay them back?

“This initiative aims to safely get people back onto our streets and revitalise our villages, towns and city centres. With the government’s continued help we can thank the British public for behaving so responsibly and reward our frontline, dining and drinking outside across the UK enjoying the great British summer.”

The UK government said bars and restaurants could reopen by July at the earliest, with physical distancing measures expected to be in place once they reopen.

Lorrimer added: “Many of our favourite places to go out and meet friends will struggle to survive with reduced seating, and others may not be able to survive at all.”

The campaign is also hoping to raise £70,000 (US$85,900) for food and drink vouchers, which will be offered for free to frontline workers.

As part of the campaign, Lorrimer wants buskers to be allowed to entertain guests outdoors to support struggling musicians during the pandemic.

To support the UK Grand Outdoor Summer Café campaign, visit ukgsoc.org.

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