It comes as some have said a post-lockdown ‘al-fresco revolution’ would mean more people are exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said it would not ban outdoor smoking but wanted to give customers greater freedom to choose a smoke-free area by reinforcing present requirements.
It has tabled an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill with the following guidance for businesses:
- Clear ‘no smoking’ signage displayed in designated areas.
- No ash trays or similar receptacles to be provided or permitted to be left on furniture where a smoke-free seating is identified.
- Licence holders should aim for a minimum two-metre distance between non-smoking and smoking areas, wherever possible.
It said businesses did not need further ‘red tape’ and could already make their own non-smoking policies without the need for regulations.
The pub sector has been vocal against further restrictions previously, with businesses already operating at reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
The Government's Bill is thought to be an attempt at a compromise with proposals from a coalition of peers who have tabled an amendment, which would commit local authorities to make granting outdoor licences conditional on a venue having a no-smoking policy.
Planning minister Christopher Pincher said: “We are supporting our pubs, cafes and restaurants to safely reopen and securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to set up outdoor seating and stalls to serve food and drink, while protecting public health against the transmission of Covid-19.
“These changes will allow everyone to enjoy outdoor eating and drinking whether they smoke or not, with appropriate provisions made for non-smokers and smokers.”
Other measures in the Bill intend to simplify and cheapen the application process for pavement licences so pubs can use car parks and terraces for drinking and dining. As the risk of coronavirus is reduced when outside, social distancing guidelines are more relaxed with up to six people from different households are allowed to socialise together while distanced.