THE city centre is taking on a more Continental feel as restaurants, pubs, bars and coffee shops are being allowed to set up tables and chairs outside.

In a move aimed at supporting businesses too small to reopen indoors with social distancing, Oxford City Council has reached an agreement with Oxfordshire County Council – the highways authority for Oxford – to provide space in the road for outdoor dining.

Oxford Mail:

So far the initiative includes tables and chairs areas in Cornmarket Street and in the newly part-pedestrianised section of St Michael’s Street.

There are also plans to open more areas in the coming weeks, including one in Broad Street.

As well as this move, businesses across Oxford are being allowed to install tables and chairs on the pavement immediately outside their premises.

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The authority is working with more than 20 restaurants, pubs, bars and coffee shops to install tables and chairs in Oxford’s streets over the coming weeks.

In Cornmarket Street a new zone for tables and chairs outside The Plough at 38, was installed in July.

The area, which operates between 10am and 6pm, will initially be temporary until October4 but could be extended if it proves successful.

The tables and chairs area could also be expanded if more Cornmarket Street businesses apply to use it.

Oxford Mail:

An area for tables and chairs will is also being created outside 8 to 13 Broad Street, near The White Horse pub and Blackwell’s Bookshop.

The famous bookshop plans to create an outside seating area for its café, while the pub will be able to open for the first time since lockdown started.

The city council is also lobbying the county council – whose decision it would be – to pedestrianise Broad Street with the hope of creating Oxford’s first European-style plaza.

Part of St Michael’s Street, meanwhile, has already been partially pedestrianised to create a zone for tables and chairs.

The road closure, from the junction of Cornmarket Street to Society Café, started on July 25 and will be in operation every day between 10am and 6pm.

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Adrian Campbell-Howard, owner of Society Café, said he was 'absolutely delighted' with the move, adding: "It’s wonderful to see the street come alive with cafe culture and people enjoying the unique spaces that this beautiful city has to offer.”

Outside the city centre, the Jolly Postboys in East Oxford is also expanding its outdoor seating.

Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader, and cabinet member for green transport and zero carbon Oxford, said: “The hospitality sector is a key part of the city centre’s economy and we want to support the industry to bounce back and turn a profit.

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"Our support for outdoors, on-street tables and chairs is a practical way to help businesses serve more people while keeping them apart because of social distancing guidance."