For the past two summers, many streets across Britain have experienced an al fresco boom. Though it was born as a way to keep the hospitality industry afloat during periods of Covid restrictions while simultaneously keeping diners safer in outdoor settings, it proved popular beyond expectation.
Yes, we had a good chuckle at those “Costa del Manchester” nicknames and the troopers who braved gale-force winds to enjoy their outdoor pints when outdoor service resumed last spring. But, the extra space provided for many restaurants has been a godsend in the post-pandemic recovery, and a blast for customers alike — so, it’s welcome news that al fresco dining is officially here to stay.
These “pavement licenses” had initially been introduced as a temporary lifeline for the thousands of cafés, bars, and restaurants that closed throughout the pandemic. Now, a “Levelling Up and Regeneration” is expected to permanently transform the streets as we knew them… in a pre-2020 world, anyway.
The Government confirmed that it wants to make sure everyone can enjoy al fresco dining, even now that no Covid restrictions are in place. Reports by The Daily Telegraph also state that businesses will be invited to apply for street licences through the new legislation. Plus, pubs are set to be allowed to serve takeaway food and pints under new initiatives; a move that proved popular during lockdowns.
It is thought that under the extensions of Al Fresco dining, each new seat could boost venue’s earnings by up to £6,000-a-year, making it vital for businesses still struggling in the immediate aftermath of restrictions. Al fresco dining is a move that, according to estimations, would help the one-in-three cafés, bars, and restaurants which have the space to apply for a license.
While this, of course, is fantastic news, it’s currently unclear how the new legislation will affect Manchester, and whether the council would consider closing off more streets to traffic again as they did during the pandemic. The Northern Quarter, in particular, thrived during this time, with streets such as Thomas Street, Edge Street, Stevenson Square and more benefitting from temporarily closed off streets and pavement licenses.