Covid: London streets to open for outdoor dining as restrictions ease

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image captionThe streets of Soho were packed ahead of the second national lockdown in November

Al fresco dining will return to central London in April as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Sixty streets, including those in Soho, Chinatown and Covent Garden, will be pedestrianised to allow restaurants and bars to offer outside table service.

Over 550 restaurants were given table licences last year in a bid to recreate the outside dining culture seen in cities like Paris and Barcelona.

It will begin on 12 April as Covid-19 restrictions begin to loosen.

Large crowds gathered in London's Soho district as pub-goers celebrated lockdown easing in England last year.

Temporary roadblocks and wardens will be deployed to manage traffic and pedestrian flows when the al fresco scheme is launched, Westminster City Council said.

media captionLarge crowds of people visited London's Soho district to celebrate pubs reopening

Westminster Council leader Rachael Robathan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Hospitality is a major employer in Westminster supporting around 80,000 jobs and a big part of the reason people visit the West End.

"But with shutters down and doors barred, this sector has been amongst the hardest hit during lockdown.

"We know how hard this has been, which is why we are re-launching our al fresco scheme as soon as the easing of restrictions allows us to help struggling businesses as much as we can."

From 17 May, the government hopes to allow restaurants to welcome guests inside, assuming infections continue to fall throughout the country.

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