18 Jun 2020 Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey has welcomed news that Belfast City Council is to begin processing applications for pavement café licences from Monday 22 June.
Over the last number of weeks, Council has supported businesses that are having to adapt their premises in order to adhere to social distancing and reopen safely.
Alderman McCoubrey said: “We’ve been working with our city partners to look at how we can best support retailers and businesses who are ready to reopen. Many businesses will have to diversify their model if they are to adhere to the current Executive guidance and public health advice.
“Councils have been encouraged to take a flexible and pragmatic approach to cafés, restaurants or bars that want to have on-street seating for customers in order to comply with social distancing.
“As part of our recovery plan for the city, Council will be accepting applications for pavement cafes from Monday. I hope this will be good news for our hospitality sector and demonstrate that we are committed to helping them reopen again safely, and without any added delay.”
Alderman McCoubrey added: “Safety is our number one priority and Council has set up a free helpline for any business in the city that is ready to reopen but needs some practical advice on how to ensure their premises are in line with the current restrictions.”
Earlier this week, Council and its city partners launched a ‘confidence mark’ for the city to reassure members of the public that measures have been taken to keep them safe as Belfast begins to reopen.
Today, Alderman McCoubrey visited a number of city centre businesses to hear first-hand about some of the challenges retailers have been faced with, and how they have been welcoming their customers back in a safe way.
Alderman McCoubrey said: “I have been really encouraged by what I’ve seen today. Retailers have worked hard to introduce measures to protect staff and customers; and while it has been a challenge for everyone to get back up and running, I think people are accepting of the new arrangements and understand that they’re in place to keep everyone safe.
“The last few months have been particularly difficult for our city – not just for businesses in the city centre, but right across Belfast, in communities. Every business has been affected by this in some way or another, but I am really pleased that there is still so much positivity among our business community.
“I hope that people will be reassured that Council and our city partners are working hard to keep people safe so that they can come into the city with confidence as Belfast begins to reopen.”