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Al fresco dining returns to Westminster’s streets

Al Fresco dining in Soho

Published: 14 April 2021

Westminster retail and hospitality businesses re-open 

Yesterday, many hospitality businesses were able to open once again and welcome back visitors for the first time this year. To help as many as possible of our 3,700 bars, restaurants and pubs to open to outdoor diners, Westminster City Council has supported licensed businesses by providing space for al fresco dining. 

Around 60 streets will benefit from either pavement widening, temporary closure of roads and parking bays to allow tables and chairs to be set-up for outdoor restaurant seating in the street.  

The temporary measures were first introduced when lockdown restrictions eased in July last year and were a lifeline to the local economy, bringing much needed confidence and footfall back to Westminster. The continuation of the scheme will be extended until the end of September.  

The local authority announced the move earlier this year to support the hospitality sector during a very tough time for Westminster’s hospitality businesses. 

Since the summer last year, the council have processed more than 1,300 pavement licences to allow hospitality businesses to open to outdoor diners.


Al Fresco dining Soho Ku Bar

The council has done everything it can to support businesses to re-open safely from today and has been encouraging businesses who have sufficient space in front of their premises to apply for a pavement licence. For those who can’t operate until indoor seating is expected to be allowed from 17th May, they should view our business support services

With the temporary al fresco measures in place this summer, the council will continue to monitor the scheme. The council will keep communities informed via consultations as the city recovers.   

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:   

The reopening of shops and retail marks the end of an ordeal for thousands of businesses across the capital. The economy of the West End accounts for one in ten jobs across London, so we need people back visiting, working, shopping and enjoying our unique attractions. It’s important we take these initial steps back to normality safely, so we will be working with businesses to manage queues and pointing people to information on when public transport is quieter and the streets less busy so they can pick a time to visit while staying social distanced. 

We are again supporting our restaurants, cafes and bars to offer al fresco dining after the successful summer trial last year. London is an international attraction and we need to showcase our amazing City as it becomes safe to do so. 

We will be doing our part to revive London over coming months with the launch of the Marble Arch Mound, the redevelopment of Oxford Street and our major Inside Out arts festival.

Find out more on how Westminster is helping businesses to re-open safely