The government has unveiled new plans which could allow pubs to keep marquees up all year round.
As Covid-19 restrictions slowly eased in 2020, many pubs erected makeshift marquees outside to ensure they could continue to serve customers whatever the British weather threw at them.
Temporary licenses were granted for such structures and ministers have now launched a consultation that could see them become permanent additions to pubs, bars and restaurants.
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Bob Steet, landlord of the Cavalry Arms in Huddersfield, put a marquee up in his beer garden as soon as pubs were allowed to reopen last year.
“It has been the best thing we ever did,” he said.
“A lot of people probably didn’t even know we had a beer garden, so it was just a great advert.
“It has definitely helped bring back business that we’d lost but also created new business. It has brought a lot of people in and it’s effectively added another room to the pub.”
Current legislation, which was introduced during the pandemic, has seen the usual strict guidelines eased “to help support business in re-opening and provide flexibility to encourage use of outdoor spaces”.
There are now plans to extend the temporary measures and possibly make them permanent.
“If we got permission, we’d definitely keep ours,” said Scott Westlake, landlord of the Myrtle Tavern in Meanwood, Leeds.
He has remodelled his car park to make room for a giant marquee that can sit up to 100 customers.
“It has made a massive difference to us.
“When it was outside service only, we could get 100 people out of the rain, which was a big game-changer. When it was Christmas last year, a lot of people sat out there because you don’t feel like you’re inside.
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“It was the most popular place for our customers to sit all throughout last year.
“Even when it is a nice summer day, people still sit under there. The marquee is quite spacious and it’s easy to do table service.
“A lot of people still feel more comfortable with table service and being outside.”
Stewart, manager of The Foresters Arms in Honley, said: “During Euro 2020 it was fantastic.
“Our customers absolutely love it. It’s having that space where they can just sit comfortably and we do table service, so they don’t even have to get up.
“It’s something we’d like to continue.”
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Although marquees could soon become a permanent feature at pubs across Yorkshire, al fresco dining in towns and cities across the region could soon disappear.
In many places, roads have been closed to traffic to allow hospitality venues to expand their seating areas. However, the government consultation does not seek to include this as part of the new plans.
You can take part in the public consultation here.
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