Temporary seating pods and changes to licensing, to enable an alfresco café culture and support food and drinks businesses, are being considered by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The moves are part of an urgent review being considered to support the hospitality sector in response to yesterday’s government’s easing of the Covid-19 lockdown which could see more seating near city centre cafes and bars and making it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside, if the government changes licensing laws.
The measures announced yesterday to help pubs, cafes and hotels reopen have been welcomed by Bath & North East Somerset Council but with a reminder to people to continue to safely socially distance.
The council is working with Bath BID and businesses to look at safely allowing more tables and chairs in streets and full consideration will be made of the council’s obligations under the Equality Act to consider the needs of disabled people and people with pushchairs.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Communities, said: “We are reviewing places that could safely accommodate tables and chairs to support the pubs, cafes and restaurants to reopen. But at the same time we have to make sure people are able to safely social distance as they walk about the city or queue outside shops.
‘We are considering options such as temporary seating ‘pods’ where people could sit and socially distance while enjoying a coffee, food or drinks or looking to make it easier for pubs, cafes and restaurants, where safe, to serve people outside, if the law allows.
“In addition our officers will work closely with licensees to support them in reopening safely in line with Government guidance. While we will be promoting the Government advice on social distancing to all licensed businesses in Bath and North East Somerset, the onus will be on owners to comply.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, added: “We want to see our hospitality sector re-open but not at the expense of spreading the virus or anti-social behaviour so when they can re-open we may consider taking enforcement action in instances where social distancing legislation is not being followed.”
Yesterday the council also announced the re-opening, on July 6, of the Roman Baths. It will keep to the two-metre social distance rule for visitors and staff. The Victoria Art Gallery and Fashion Museum will not open until March next year.
While welcoming the government’s announcement which will help boost the hospitality sector the council is also urging people to continue to play their part, to socially distance and to stick to the rules.
Dr Bruce Laurence, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s director for Public Health, said: “The coronavirus does not change its behaviour just because the government has changed the rules. It will spread at every opportunity. We all welcome some return to a more normal lifestyle, but every relaxation inevitably carries some increase in risk of local outbreaks and increasing numbers of cases and all these risks add up.
“It is therefore up to all businesses shops and venues to take very seriously the requirement to operate safely and take recommended precautions for the sake of both their staff and the public.
‘It is also up to all members of the public to be very conscious that Covid is still out there in the community in Bath and North East Somerset, and so the more we all continue to distance as much as we can, and cooperate fully with test and trace, the more we will prevent possible outbreaks, and avoid the possibility of having to go back into lockdowns again.”
For details about the safe re-opening of the Roman Baths go to https://www.romanbaths.co.uk/
Government guidance on the reopening of pubs, bars and cafes and visitor attractions is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/