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New Al Fresco Laws Will Make Outdoor Dining a Permanent Feature of UK High Streets

Street tables might be off the menu, but it could still be a sea change to restaurant culture

Diners sit at tables on a closed Soho street in summer 2020
Outdoor dining on Soho streets in summer 2020, when restaurants first reopened.
Michaël Protin

Outdoor restaurants will become a permanent feature of U.K. high streets thanks to new dining laws included in the 2022 Queen’s Speech. Councils will be able to move forward from temporary pavement licenses, which were crucial to the recovery of London’s restaurants during and from the COVID-19 pandemic, and grant permanent dispensation for al fresco dining.

The new laws are also expected to benefit pubs, extending off-licensing regulations that permit takeaway pints and meals. Together, the outdoor laws were a considerable boon for restaurants, pubs, and cafes, and while the extraordinary sight of tables on the streets of Soho may be a thing of the past, their continuation is set to benefit the U.K. hospitality world further into the future.

Another seaside sojourn into the capital

Brighton pizzeria Fatto a Mano (which already has a London presence at Boxparks Shoreditch and Croydon) will open a restaurant in King’s Cross.

Beefy London steakhouse sets its sights on Merseyside

Hawksmoor will open its tenth restaurant in the UK when it heads to Liverpool.

And in review...

Jay Rayner has a very good, very expensive meal in central London; Jimi Famurewa adores Plaza Khao Gaeng; and Marina O’Loughlin endures a wee nightmare.

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