June 25, 2020 / 3:29 AM / 17 days ago

England goes al fresco to help hospitality sector rebound

LONDON (Reuters) - Restaurants and pubs in England will be able to serve customers on pavements, terraces and even in car parks under a relaxation of planning laws due to be put before parliament on Thursday, as the government seeks to restart the stalled hospitality sector on July 4.

Britain is slowly reopening after more than three months of lockdown that has pushed some businesses to the brink and forced the government to borrow billions to support its economy.

The government will present legislation aimed at allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants more freedom to operate outside, where experts say the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower.

The Business and Planning Bill will include changes to allow venues to spread out into pedestrianised areas, terraces and car parks, and temporarily allow them to sell alcohol that can be consumed off the premises, a government source said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a broad outline of the next stage of Britain’s return to business on Tuesday, saying he was looking forward to visiting a pub, eating in a restaurant and having his hair cut.

The legislation due to be published on Thursday builds on that, and is seen as a key step towards getting the hospitality sector, some of which has been forced to shut entirely, back on its feet.

Once passed into law by parliament, the measures will apply to England, with rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mostly determined by their own devolved governments.

Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison

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