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Al Fresco Britain

The government has recently brought forward The Business and Planning Bill aimed at allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants more freedom to operate outside. This will effectively mean that venues with an alcohol license will be given permission to sell alcohol for people to drink outside the premises and sitting at café tables on the street. It is hoped that the new law could be pushed through within days, allowing hospitality businesses to convert car parks and terraces into beer gardens and adding more tables and chairs to the pavements. Some are calling it al fresco Britain!

The passing of this bill and cutting of red tape will be welcomed by landlords and eatery owners across the UK. They have already been working hard behind the scenes to be compliant with government guidance and to ensure the health and safety of their returning staff and customers.

Their biggest concern was operating at only half capacity, indoors, whilst ensuring customers and staff were adhering to social distancing rules. The passing of this bill will therefore alleviate those concerns and give a much-needed lifeline to business owners everywhere. Creating more outdoor seating areas will hopefully see an increase of customers and give the hospitality industry an economic boost.

Here at Café Reality we are constantly trying to make sense of how our environments both inside and outside will change with the newly adopted social distancing measures. We have therefore put together some before and after visuals of what may be coming for your favorite pub, restaurant or café and high ­street in the months ahead.

So, what can we expect?

Artboard 1-100


Cafe after the passing of The Business and Planning Bill


Outdoor Food and Drink Stalls

It has been reported that outdoor seating areas could feature market stalls to serve customers food and drinks, preventing them from reentering premises and causing congestion. Ministers are reportedly considering allowing any restaurant or café to set up the stalls, whether they have an outdoor license or not, provided the move would not block the pavement for wheelchair users. This move could create a more vibrant continental style of town center dining during the summer months, whilst allowing restaurants and cafes to remain open for longer.

More Parklets

What are Parklets?

A Parklet is a transformed parking space intended to offer a unique tranquil area for the public, tourists and pedestrians to sit and relax and watch the world go by. The Parklet phenomena started in San Francisco with an eco-activist feeding a parking meter with coins and transforming the allocated parking space with rolls of grass, chairs and potted plants.  Now they have become official community projects in cities around the world, as residents, councils and governors have seen the benefits they have to offer. 

We may therefore, with the passing of The Business and Planning Bill, see an increase in Parklets for both public use and paying customers. Premises which would have usually faced tight seating restrictions on pavements and roads may now be looking at available parking spaces in a whole different light.


We could see more Parklet type seating areas in many more cities across the UK. 

Parklet seating area concept by Cafe Reality

A Parklet concept by Cafe Reality showing how they could be adopted by cafes, restaurants and bars.

There is no doubt that returning customers will feel safer sitting outside as there is a lower risk of spreading coronavirus outdoors. Dr Chris Smith, a clinical lecturer in virology at the University of Cambridge previously told the BBC “The chances of Covid-19 transmission outside were small because the amount of dilution from fresh air is so high”. Additionally, social distancing is easier to maintain outside and there is also evidence of sunlight or UV (Ultra Violet) killing viruses on surfaces more quickly.

Humans have always had an innate need to affiliate with nature, plants and animals. This may be from the result of spending the majority of our evolutionary history (over 99%) closely connected to nature. Architects and interior designers adopt plans and layouts to bring as much natural light in as possible and to utilize social outdoor spaces, as it is inherently good for our wellbeing.

So with lighter restrictions on the hospitality industry and the increasingly good weather, it is highly likely that your first meal or drink post lockdown will be outside. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!


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