U.K. Allows Dining in Pub Car Parks in Fresh Bid to Lift Economy


The U.K. is making it easier for pubs and restaurants to serve customers outside, its latest bid to encourage spending as Boris Johnson relaxes the nation’s lockdown.

From Thursday, licensing processes will be simplified, meaning pubs and restaurants can use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, according to a statement from Johnson’s office. They will also be able to sell alcohol for consumption off their premises.

The latest measures come as Britain prepares for a widespread re-opening of businesses July 4, with swathes of the hospitality and tourism industries allowed to operate again after three months of closure. Aiming to save the economy, Johnson’s green light for firms is also a major gamble as it risks a second spike of coronavirus infections.

Using outdoor spaces will allow more clients to be served while still observing social distancing guidelines, Johnson’s office said. This week, Johnson reduced the recommendation for social distancing from 2 meters to 1 meter, provided other mitigating actions are also taken, like facing away from others or wearing a face covering.

“I can’t wait to go to a pub or a restaurant,” Johnson said at the 10 Downing Street news conference Tuesday. “People need to enjoy themselves.”

Outdoor street trading and markets will also be made easier under the government’s new laws, and proposed planning freedoms would mean that summer fairs and pop-up car boot sales would not require a planning application, Johnson’s office said.

In a sign of other steps that the U.K. may take to support the economy, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday that conversations are ongoing about extending the government’s job retention program, which is due to end in October. James Slack, Johnson’s spokesman, later told reporters he wasn’t aware of any such plans.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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