How can the hospitality sector prepare for reopening by utilising their open space?

Adam Bromley
Adam Bromley

Published: March 22nd, 2021

7 min read

Following the Government's provisional roadmap to allow for the gradual reopening of business, many businesses will be putting plans in place so that they are prepared to capitalise as soon as they are able. An example would be the pub industry - the utilisation of their outdoor space presents a promising opportunity to get business back on track.

What are the key dates?

  • 12 April: The Government plans to allow for outdoor hospitality to a maximum of six people or a larger group providing they are all from a maximum of two households. There is no current plan to bring back the 'substantial meal' requirement for pubs to serve alcoholic drinks, and there will be no curfew.
  • 17 May: The Government plans to allow indoor hospitality, meaning that pubs will be able to re-open their indoor space to house customers.

Crucially, this means that there is nearly a five-week window (which is subject to increasing) in which pubs can only serve customers providing they have permission to utilise outdoor space. The popular pub chain Wetherspoons, for example, has already announced its intention to open 394 of its pubs in April which provide outdoor space.

How can pubs use outdoor space?

Unless the pub owns the outdoor area or it was conveyed to them under their lease, then it needs to obtain what is known as a pavement licence. This is an agreement entered into with the local authority that acts as legal permission for the pub to place removable furniture in the outside area that is agreed in the licence.

Fortunately, the Government has 'streamlined' the process of obtaining a licence from the local authority so that they can be in place in time for the re-opening.


If a pub is looking to secure a licence, renew its existing licence or is unsure as to what their existing licence allows and does not allow - it is important to seek legal advice.

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