United Kingdom

Diners will be able to eat al fresco outside central London restaurants for next six months

Diners will be able to eat in al fresco outside central London restaurants for the next six months, it was revealed today. 

Pubs and restaurants in the capital will be allowed to reopen tomorrow under Tier 2 coronavirus rules, along with much of the rest of the country.

Diners will be allowed to eat together as long as there are a maximum of six people sat with each other and everyone in the group is from the same support bubble or household if sat inside. 

And Westminster Council has announced the new rules allowing groups to eat al fresco in groups of up to six in mixed households from tomorrow will be continued for a further six months.

Diners will be able to eat al fresco outside central London restaurants for the next six months, it was revealed today. Pictured: A waiter serves drinks at an al fresco restaurant in London's Soho on November 4 before 

Diners and drinkers pack out the streets of Soho in London on November 4 before the new coronavirus lockdown was put in place

Council leader Rachael Robathan, said the scheme, which allows venues to provide 'pop up' dining areas in streets, would be an important way of supporting the hospitality industry.

She said: 'We have 3,700 restaurants, pubs and bars in central London and they help to support around 80,000 jobs. 

'Hospitality is a big employer for us and while the sector faces another tough few months under tier two restrictions, at least we can support those venues who can offer outside space.'

Q&A: What are the rules for bars and restaurants in Tier Two? 

What does 'tier two' mean?

This means the area is on a 'high alert' for coronavirus, with the Government saying it shows it has a 'higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place'.

Can I see my friends or family indoors?

No, unless they are in your household. You cannot socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

Can I see my friends and family outdoors, including in gardens? 

Yes, with restrictions. You cannot socialise in a group of more than six people outside, including in a garden or a public space. This is called the 'rule of six'.

Can I go the pub?

Yes, with restrictions. You can only inside a pub with your own household, and they are only allowed to serve alcohol with 'substantial meals'.

You can go outside a pub with members of other households within the 'rule of six', but the same rules apply regarding alcohol.

Can I go to a restaurant?

Yes, with the same restrictions as above regarding where you can sit with members of other households. 

Can I go up to the bar at a pub or restaurant?

No. Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to provide table service only, in premises which sell alcohol. 

Are nightclubs reopening?

No, nightclubs still remain closed by law. 

Is the curfew on pubs and restaurants still in place?

Yes, but it has been put back an hour. Now, hospitality venues serving alcohol must close between 11pm and 5am, and stop taking orders after 10pm.

Are there exemptions to the curfew? 

Yes, hospitality venues in airports, ports, transport services and motorway service areas are all exempt from the curfew.

Can you still get a takeaway after 10pm?

Yes. Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through. 

At the same time, Westminster City Council has launched a 'shop safe' campaign, which emphasises measures the authority has taken to make the streets as safe as possible. 

These include widening pavements, installing 7 miles (11km) of cycle lanes, social distance signage and hand sanitiser stations across the City. 

A social media campaign being launched by Westminster City Council on Wednesday will underline the safety messages.

Councillor Robathan said: 'We are expecting to see a "Christmas comeback" effect with the West End busy into the first weekend after lockdown.

'But while I hope to see our shops and companies doing a brisk trade, we need to keep the safety message at the forefront of all our minds. 

'Nobody wants to risk us slipping into tier three so let's use our new freedoms to get the West End moving while keeping the lid on Covid.'

The decision to extend al fresco dining in the capital for six months after tomorrow came as Boris today announced every 'wet pub' forced to stay shut because of the new coronavirus tier restrictions will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 to help them stay afloat during December.

The Prime Minister said pubs which do not serve food will be eligible for the cash to recognise 'how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month'.

Mr Johnson said pubs, bars and restaurants are the 'heart of our communities' but he admitted they had been forced to carry a 'disproportionate share of the burden' during the Government's efforts to slow the spread of the disease.

The cash payment was immediately criticised by furious hospitality bosses who said it was nowhere near enough to address the 'financial armageddon' faced by many firms.

Shops are also preparing for a 'Wild Wednesday' spending spree when the national lockdown ends tomorrow.

Customers can expect sales and longer opening hours over the festive period as retailers desperately try to plug the financial black hole left by restrictions.

Some stores have even hired extra security to deal with an influx of shoppers, with Primark and Ikea expecting crowds.

It comes as shopping centres - including Westfield in London - have drafted in celebrities to lure people back to the beleaguered high street to 'shop physical'.

Debenhams will launch a pre-Christmas fire sale of all its stock as it heads for oblivion today after 242 years of trading with 12,000 jobs set to go.

Stores can open 24 hours a day in December in a desperate bid to offset the £900million a day economic hit of the tier system.

They will be fighting over a £1billion festive spending bounty when they re-open - promising huge price cuts.

But despite predictions of bumper crowds tomorrow, there are fears customers will stay away from stores due to the coronavirus rules, the Centre for Retail Research suggests.

London's West End is expected to see a drop of 170,000 customers a day by the weekend.

Birmingham's Bullring is forecast to see 40,000 fewer people in its stores as well as a 30,000-strong reduction at the Trafford centre in Manchester and Gateshead's Metrocentre.

Despite a massive online spending splurge from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, millions of Britons are yet to buy their Christmas gifts.

Industry analysts were expecting around £2billion to be spent online yesterday, bringing the total for web shopping over the weekend to £5.7billion. 

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