Robert Jenrick encourages English Council leaders to avoid “overzealous interpretations of the rules” as hospitality venues reopen outdoors

On 15 April 2021, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, wrote a letter to Chief Executives and leaders of local authorities in England on how they should apply measures for reopening outdoor hospitality safely.

In that letter (that you can download below) he stated:

Among the restrictions eased on 12 April was the reopening of outdoor hospitality, including pubs, cafes and restaurants. To support these businesses to reopen safely, the government legislated to enable them to set up outdoor shelters and marquees without planning permissions.

We have published clear guidance on GOV.UK for how these structures can be set up safely and what conditions they need to meet to be considered “outdoors”. For instance – in line with the existing rules for outdoor smoking areas – shelters, marquees and other structures erected by hospitality and other businesses can have a roof, but need to have at least half of the area of their walls open at all times whilst in use.

I would encourage you all to ensure that this guidance is applied proportionately and consistently in your areas to support businesses to reopen safely and to avoid overzealous interpretations of the rules. It is in the public interest that local residents can socialise in a licensed and controlled environment outside, where Covid-19 risks are lower. If a disproportionate regulatory approach is taken, it risks driving residents into unregulated activity and premises which may be far less covid-secure and/or illegal.