The new rule which means more pubs and restaurants could open in Sheffield next month

A new rule could enable more pubs and restaurants to open in Sheffield when customers are allowed to return next month.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 1:26 pm

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in England will be permitted to serve customers outside from April 12, under the Government’s road map out of lockdown, provided Covid hospitalisations and deaths continue to fall as expected and there is no further spike in cases.

The Government has now announed a new £56 million ‘Welcome Back’ fund to help the nation’s high streets and coastal towns safely reopen and attract more visitors.

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Pubs, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to erect marquees on their grounds for the whole summer under new rules designed to give businesses a post-lockdown boost

It can be used by councils to brighten up their streets, parks and green spaces, and add more outdoor seating, publicise events like markets and festivals, and install signs and floor markings to encourage social distancing, among other measures.

A package of measures unveiled by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick will also allow pubs, restaurants and other businesses to set up marquees in their garden for the whole summer, rather than 28 days as currently permitted.

Caps on private parking fines are being introduced to clamp down on ‘cowboy parking firms’, and give drivers confidence when visiting towns.

Part of the funding pot will be specifically allocated for coastal areas, with all English seaside resorts to receive support, under the Government’s plans to help holidaymakers this year.

The funding boost for England’s seaside resorts comes as scientists warned that the prospect of foreign holidays was unlikely this summer due to the risks posed by Covid variants in other countries.

Labour said the fund was ‘a drop in the ocean’ and it was ‘not clear which areas will benefit’.

Mr Jenrick said: “As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

“Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely.

“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.”

Yorkshire and the Humber will get £5.4m out of the total £56.1m fund, though it is not clear how this will be split between different parts of the region.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said: “This is just a drop in the ocean compared to how much the Conservatives took away over a decade when they pushed our high streets and seaside towns into deep decline, and it’s not clear which areas will benefit.

“The Conservatives have done nothing to level the playing field between high street shops and online retailers. Now they want to hollow high streets out by selling off temporarily closed shops to wealthy developers so they can never reopen as shops again.”

Sheffield, meanwhile, is one of 70 councils which will receive ‘targeted hands-on support’ from the Government’s High Streets Task Force, described as ‘an elite team of high street experts who will advise them on how to adapt to meet changing consumer demands so they can thrive in the years ahead’.