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1. New support for al fresco dining (13 October)

We’re allowing umbrellas and heaters to prolong al fresco dining throughout the winter months.

Read the Leader's letter to businesses - 13 October 2020

Westminster’s business community is key to the future success of our city. Westminster’s hospitality industry has faced extremely challenging circumstances since March and the coming months will continue to be difficult.

We’ve always worked closely with our residents to support local businesses and will continue to do all we can to help them in these uncertain times. We want to help our wonderful restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés to continue to provide a safe and enjoyable service.

We realise that as the weather turns colder, heaters and umbrellas may help businesses to successfully use the extra space available for tables and chairs. We are therefore minded to adopt a presumption in favour of requests to use safe, low-carbon electric heaters and appropriate umbrellas for outdoor tables and chairs, while always respecting the needs of local residents. Where we find that things aren’t working in specific locations, we’ll quickly change our approach.

We also recognise that many businesses have benefitted from our hospitality schemes which have allowed al fresco dining throughout the summer months. A key reason for introducing these schemes was to help businesses to offer the safest experience for their customers, which is outside, where there can be greater social distancing and the risk of transmission is lower. That’s why we will continue to support al fresco hospitality to provide a safer environment for patrons.

The current programme of temporary road closures and other measures that were introduced to support outdoor eating and drinking will come to an end at the end of this month. The Council now wants to hear from local communities and businesses about potential new schemes which are winter-appropriate and supported by residents, businesses and emergency services alike.

The Council has already spent £2m to date supporting al fresco dining. Future schemes will need to be paid for by the businesses which benefit most and could include partial parking suspensions, widened pavements and barriers in some streets.

We hope that these fresh announcements will be welcomed by both residents and businesses alike and we will update the detailed guidance on the proper use of heaters and umbrellas later this week. We would also ask that residents and businesses work together to generate ideas and potential solutions for winter al fresco dining schemes and then bring them to us. You can contact the team at movementstrategy@westminster.gov.uk.

We also remain keen for ideas to come forward to identify other local schemes that could benefit specific locations at certain times throughout the year. This could include supporting events such as Christmas fairs or other seasonal events. 

In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, our City Inspectors will continue to engage proactively and be a reassuring and visible on street presence to offer advice and support to businesses and the community to help ensure they are Covid secure.

If anyone is unsure whether a business or organisation is following the regulations then they can contact our new Premises Enquiry Line on 0207 641 4747 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or email covidenquiries@westminster.gov.uk.

We’d again like to thank everyone for their cooperation and feedback which has informed our decisions. Through this collaborative and flexible approach, we are confident that together we will support our communities, including our businesses, so we all emerge stronger when restrictions are eventually lifted.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Rachael Robathan

Leader of the Council

2. Enjoy a night out safely

If you’re planning a night out to visit the West End, check out our top tips to ensure you have a safe night in the city:

  1. Call ahead and check to see if you need to book a place at the restaurant, bar or pub. Lots of places do not allow walk-ins, and you will need to leave your contact details ahead of time to help support the NHS Test and Trace service.
  2. Plan ahead to avoid travelling on public transport at peak times - you can also use our walkways and cycle lanes to move around the city. Remember to wear a face covering when required. Keep your distance from people outside your household and respect others around you by practising social distancing.
  3. Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds - you can use the sanitiser stations across Westminster.
  4. When visiting pubs, bars and restaurants, follow the safety measures the venues have put in place and use contactless payments if you can.
  5. Remember to check in for contact tracing by scanning the NHS QR code displayed in the venue using the NHS COVID-19 app.
  6. Remember, stand-up drinking in the streets is not allowed in the temporary hospitality areas that have been created outside bars, pubs and restaurants. These schemes have been extended until the end of October 2020.
  7. All bars, restaurants and hospitality businesses must close by 10pm.

Enjoy your meal or drink, but stay safe.

3. Shop Local, Eat Local

Find information about which local shops, bars, restaurants and pubs are open and where you can find discounts.

Shop Local, Eat Local

4. Safety rules for businesses and enquiry line

Hospitality venues in England are legally required to:

  • enforce the rule of six and maintain social distancing between customers
  • operate table service only, except for takeaways
  • close at 10pm
  • Face coverings must be worn by all staff and customers except where seated

In retail settings, face coverings must be worn at all times by staff and customers.

Designated businesses and organisations are also legally required to:

  • Display official NHS QR code posters
  • Log details of customers, visitors and staff for NHS Test and Trace

Read the full list of the Government’s regulations.

Guidance for businesses on operating safely.

Have a question or enquiry about regulations?

If you are unsure whether a business or organisation is following the Government’s regulations, you can contact our Premises Enquiry Line on 0207 641 4747 (Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm) or email covidenquiries@westminster.gov.uk

5. Moving around

We have installed new and additional space for cyclists and pedestrians in the heart of the capital to safely support businesses in Westminster and allow people to get around.

The council has developed these important temporary measures in conjunction with local groups and businesses.

We have put new, temporary widened pavements, pedestrian areas and cycle lanes in some of our city’s most iconic locations, such as the West End and or transport hubs. 

Initial reopening projects - in progress

These schemes are being delivered. It is worth regularly checking as this list is subject to constant change.

Updated 28 August 2020

Strand, Aldwych gyratory, Kingsway, Lancaster Place

Additional pedestrian space and cycling on road with barriers, signs and lines

Completed projects

St John’s Wood High Street

Additional pedestrian space provided along the High Street using barriers

Bayswater Road

Creation of additional cycle facilities connecting CS3 to Broadwalk in both direction

Harrow Road, between City of Westminster boundary and Edgware Road

Additional temporary social distancing measures to be removed.  Cycle Lane to remain.

Knightsbridge and Belgravia (Brompton Road)

Installing barriers to create additional pavement space for pedestrians at retail areas on Knightsbridge.

Marylebone High Street

A short section of resident parking between Hinde Street and Bullstrode Street, but kerbside space for loading and drop- off and pick-up to be retained and there is parking capacity on adjacent streets.


Cycle priority scheme in place via road markings.

Harrow Road, between City of Westminster boundary and Edgware Road

To install pop up cycle lanes along the road and providing additional pedestrian space at pinch points by reallocating road space using barriers, signs and lines.

Northumberland Avenue

To install pop up cycle lanes north and south along the road by reallocating road space using barriers, signs and lines.

Queensway, Inverness Terrace, Porchester Road, Lord Hills Bridge

To install pop up cycle lanes along the road by reallocating road space using barriers, signs and lines.

Buckingham Palace Road

Pop-up cycle lanes and additional pedestrian space with barriers, signs and lines.

Elizabeth Street / Victoria Coach Station

Use of barriers to provide temporary  pedestrian space around Victoria Coach Station and at the section of the street with shops where the footway is exceptionally narrow.  Kerbside space for loading and drop- off & pick-up to be retained. 

Golden Jubilee Footbridges

Signage installed to encourage social distancing and no stopping on the bridge. Lifts will be operational. 

City Wide Cycle Stand Programme (hoops and racks)

Additional cycle parking facilities to be installed at key locations throughout the City in areas of high cycle demand, commercial areas and transport hubs.

Portland Place

Installing pop up cycle lanes to the north and south of the road.

Oxford Street (East and West)

Barriers on bus lanes to create additional pedestrian walking space, whilst maintaining access for pedestrians to use the bus services.  Additional pedestrian space to be provided on Oxford Circus by installing barriers on Regent Street.


Creating additional pedestrian walking space along Piccadilly and at Piccadilly Circus by installing barriers along sections of the road from Green Park to Piccadilly Circus.

Regent Street

Creating additional pedestrian space by reallocating one lane of road in each direction North and South using barriers, but still maintaining access to bus stops.


We are accelerating the roll-out of our ActiveStreets programme to provide new and additional space for children and families to get and stay active.

Our ActiveStreets programme consists of three types of ActiveStreet:

  • ‘Play Streets’ – a permanent designation which will provide priority over traffic to children and families to play in streets at specified times
  • ‘Street Play’ sessions – facilitated by temporary road closures for children and families to play in streets at specified day(s), times and locations - find out more and apply to host a ‘Street Play’ session
  • ‘School Streets’ – School Streets are pedestrian and cycle zones outside the school main entrance usually in operation at school drop-off and collection times, Monday to Friday term-time only - find out more about School Street times and locations

Charing Cross Road

To provide additional pedestrian space along parts of Charing Cross Road. We will maximise pavement space by reallocating part of the road using temporary barriers.

Abingdon Street / Millbank

Create additional space for cycling on the road using barriers, signs and lines.

Lupus Street

Lupus Street (footway scheme) to be retained between Charlwoods Street and Alderney Street.

6. Local services


Schools have adapted their measures to make classes safe for more children and are doing so in a phased manner. 

Temporary ‘School Streets’ have been implemented, which involve localised improvements to increase pedestrian space at schools across Westminster, as an emergency measure until December 2020.

Read more about 'School Streets'


Westminster’s libraries and the Archives Centre are open in line with government guidance with heightened hygiene and social distancing measures in place to ensure residents can safely enjoy all that our libraries have to offer.

Visitors to the libraries are asked to observe the government’s guidelines on social distancing, keeping two metres apart wherever possible and a minimum of one metre apart when further distancing isn’t possible. 

Library opening times and contact details

Leisure centres and pools

All our leisure centres across Westminster are open.

A range of measures are now in place to keep customers and the community safe. The full complement of measures are listed on our leisure centre partner's website at EveryoneActive.

Some services may have changed, and you may need to book ahead of your visit. Please visit EveryoneActive for the latest information.  Due to on-going improvement works, which started prior to lockdown, the swimming pools at the Porchester Centre and Queen Mother Sports Centre will remain closed until later in the year. 

All of outdoor recreation areas, including Paddington Recreation Ground are open as usual. You can find details on our parks and green spaces at Westminster Parks.

Playgrounds and outdoor gyms

Our playgrounds and outdoor gyms are open. Facilities are cleaned more regularly and have additional signage, to remind users how they can help to ensure these facilities stay safe and open. Staying safe is a team effort and it is still recommended to stay at least 2 metres apart where possible and follow good hygiene practice. In situations where that isn’t possible - people should follow the ‘1-metre-plus’ approach. This is taking more precautions such as wearing face coverings, facing away from each other, increased hand hygiene and minimising the amount of time in contact with each other as much as possible. For more information on how to keep yourself and others safe when using playgrounds please follow the guidance as signposted at each site.

For more information on our parks please visit our parks in Westminster page.

Visit ActiveWestminster for tips on how to get or stay active at home or search #StayInWorkOut on social media.


Markets have been open to traders who sell essential goods. More traders will now be returning to our markets, provided they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. 

Read more about the changes to markets

Last updated: 22 October 2020