Reports from City AM stated the council was planning to charge hospitality business for using outside spaces from next month (November).
It said there would be a £7 fee per square metre of outside space, per day once the existing ‘al fresco’ scheme ends on Saturday 31 October.
Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said: “We recognise restaurants are facing desperate times, which is why we introduced the summer al fresco dining scheme and have extended it to the winter.
“In view of additional central Government funding announced on Thursday 22 October, we are able to cover costs of the winter scheme so restaurants and bars can serve customers without any extra cost being charged by the council.”
She also tweeted: “To clarify, we are not asking restaurants and bars to pay any extra fees for al fresco dining this winter, further funding will allow us to meet costs. Hospitality industry faces desperate times and we are here to help.”
To clarify, we are NOT asking restaurants & bars to pay any extra fees for al fresco dining this winter, further @mhclg funding will allow us to meet costs. Hospitality industry faces desperate times and we are here to help.— Cllr Rachael Robathan (@leader_wcc) October 23, 2020
The council’s website revealed an “extensive guide” setting out details available to the hospitality sector over the coming months.
This included support for heaters and umbrellas over the winter months and the associated application process alongside the process for permitting outside tables and chairs.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This U-turn from Westminster Council is welcome. London’s hospitality sector needs all the help it can get right now, rather than short-sighted, counter-productive charges that will only add to the financial strain so many are facing.”
This u-turn from Westminster Council is welcome.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) October 23, 2020
London's hospitality sector need all the help they can get right now, rather than short-sighted, counter-productive charges that will only add to the financial strain so many are facing.
London has been in the Government’s tier two restrictions since XX, which bans households from mixing indoors.
The ability to trade outside will give pubs the opportunity to keep covers and ensure Covid-safe guidelines are adhered to.