COVENTRY City Council says it is supporting pubs, bars, restaurants and other businesses to open on Saturday (July 4) – despite safety fears.
Following recent government guidance, they will be able to reopen from this weekend – as long as they adhere to social distancing and safety measures designed to protect staff, customers and the public.
It follows more than three months of closure due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The government has reduced social distancing from two metres to ‘one metre-plus’ where necessary to help the hospitality trade and other businesses.
Scientific and medical opinion is divided, given the heightened risk of a second wave of Covid-19 from the reduction and more people congregating.
The council says it is working with premises to ‘understand how venues intend to operate safely and to understand and assess any plans to extend or request for outdoor seating areas’ – given it is thought the virus is less likely to spread outdoors.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said businesses would get the support of the local authority.
He added: “We all want and need businesses to reopen safely and the hospitality sector have suffered financially since the first lockdown measures were introduced due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Pubs and restaurants are having to takes steps to operate effectively and we want to help where we can.
“This includes looking at whether there is potential to extend seating areas outside in a way that does not compromise the safe movement of pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic.
“It’s about managing the experience for pub and restaurant visitors while mitigating any potential hazards or anti-social behaviour.”
The council’s licensing team is writing to businesses offering to visit licensed premises and food businesses who need ‘help with complying with the new guidance’.
Venues are being reminded to refer to the conditions on their premises licence, as these will remain in force. If they have any questions or need to make any changes, they should contact the council’s licensing team.
Trish Willetts, Director at Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), commented: “The reopening of the bar and restaurant scene in Coventry on the 4th July is very much a sign that, in measured ways, we’re getting back to normal.
“Coventry BID – and our partners – have been working hard throughout the lockdown to prepare for the time when we can reopen.
“Coventrians, and those from outside our great city, should be confident that they can safely return to their favourite food and drink businesses and we are all looking forward to welcoming them back.”
Premises will in law need to complete a risk assessment which takes COVID-19 into account. Failure to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment could constitute a breach of health and safety law, the council said.