Westminster City Council have announced the repeat of their alfresco dining scheme that saw the streets of the West End pedestrianised last summer to make way for outdoor drinking and dining. Yes, that means in just over one month you could be sipping on a drink, in the sun, with your friends, with not one Zoom Party in sight. 

The scheme is set to begin on 12th April when outdoor dining is scheduled to be allowed again under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown and will last until at least September 2021. The council have confirmed that 60 streets in total will be pedestrianised across Soho, Covent Garden, Chinatown, Fitzrovia, Oxford Circus, Paddington and Marylebone, allowing hospitality venues to apply for pavement licences.

Outdoor seating

Leader of Westminster city council, Rachael Robanthan said: “Hospitality is a major employer in Westminster supporting around 80,000 jobs and a big part of the reason people visit the West End. But with shutters down and doors barred, this sector has been amongst the hardest hit during lockdown.”

“We know how hard this has been, which is why we are relaunching our al fresco scheme as soon as the easing of restrictions allows, to help struggling businesses as much as we can.”

Last summer, out of Westminster’s 3,700 restaurants and bars, 560 took advantage of the scheme – which overlapped with Eat Out To Help Out – and the council is encouraging more to take up the offer.

Whilst some may argue that schemes such as this enhance the risk of breaking social distancing rules and the public getting out of hand, hospitality venues have suffered severely over the past year and these initiatives are vital if we want so many of our beloved venues to remain afloat. Venues will have to ensure the correct safety measures are in place and so it is up to us as customers to go and support the businesses and traders we have so long missed and assist them on the road to recovery. 

For a city whose streets have so long been empty, the pedestrianisation of the West End will call for the return of a buzzing atmosphere; filled with summer cocktails, delicious cuisines and catching up with friends. This network of streets could be the hub of London life after lockdown, so get booking and don’t miss out. 

Welcome back Pimms O’ clock, O’ how we have missed you.