Officials in London plan to reopen parts of the city centre as outdoor dining districts when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in July.

Popular areas such as Covent Garden, Soho, Mayfair, Paddington, Chinatown and some streets near Oxford Circus are about to become London's new alfresco dining zones. Councils in London have laid out plans to widen pavements and install temporary road closures in these West End districts to facilitate restaurants, cafes and bars when they open from 4 July. Tables and chairs will be moved outside so that businesses can observe social distancing guidelines by giving patrons enough space to stay apart.

Under the guidelines, patrons must be seated at one of the outdoor tables when dining and drinking and can only enter the premises to use the bathroom. Though patrons aren't required to use tables outside pubs that have outdoor drinking licences. In some areas, parking spaces will be removed to make more room for diners, and according to the Evening Standard, car parks and rooftops could also be used as dining spaces with no additional planning permission or licensing required. The measures, which will remain in place throughout the summer, are expected to be adopted in other UK cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

"The hospitality sector is vital to Westminster’s economy with more than 3000 bars and restaurants. They, and our many other attractions, are the reason people fly thousands of miles to enjoy the West End," Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster city council said. "The West End, in particular, is a unique global draw, and I am confident we can give it and our other famous locations a continental sheen that visitors, residents and regulars alike will enjoy."

A waiter wearing a face mask serves clients while people eat and have drinks on the terrace of the cafe-restaurant in Paris
Cafes and restaurants move to the streets in Paris ©NurPhoto/Getty Images

London's West End is the home of fine dining, power lunches and some of London's most exciting new restaurants. It's hoped that the alfresco dining plan will revitalise the area, stimulate the economy and give residents new ways to enjoy their city. Similar measures have been successfully rolled out in places like Athens, Barcelona and Paris.

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