Cafe culture could continue for another year in Oxford as the council has issued pavement licences to nearly 100 hospitality businesses.

The pavement licence will allow businesses to set up temporary outdoor seating areas for another year.

While restrictions on hospitality and other sectors ended in England from 19 July, pavement licences have been extended by a year and can now be in place until the end of September 2022.

More than 90 licences to hospitality businesses have been issued so far, an almost ten-fold increase from the previous year.

Outdoor dining areas across the city, including Turl St, Walton St, King Edward St and North Parade Avenue, plus a number of individual areas on wider pavements reopened on April 12, when the Government allowed businesses to trade after the coronavirus lockdown, but only to serve customers sitting outside.

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Many businesses have told the City Council that they could not have opened after the coronavirus lockdown if it were not for the City Council providing the additional seating area.

Others have said that having outside tables and chairs has been the difference between them being able to operate commercially and stay open, and having to close and lay off staff.

Alan Backshall, manager of the Three Goats Heads on St Michael’s Street, said: “After the first lockdown, the council helped us get back up and running with a pilot project closing off St Michael’s Street to traffic.

“Within a month of the road being closed, I’d say we were getting over a thousand people per day along the street, which really increased our takings.

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“Being able to have an outdoor seating area is like gold dust. There’s been a huge response and the atmosphere in the street has been buzzing.

“It has really transformed the place. The street’s been full and it’s been like having a little Havana.

“The street closure has been the best thing that could have happened. I hope it becomes a regular fixture.”

Councillor Susan Brown, said: “Oxford’s restaurants, cafes and pubs have faced serious challenges since March 2020 and we want to offer as much support as we can to ensure they recover and flourish. Outdoor seating throughout the city has not only helped hospitality traders to provide safe experiences for residents and tourists, it has also given the city a wonderful, continental feel.

“Before 2020, the Council used to license only a handful of premises each year but now we have a fast-track process that has proved extremely popular to date. We continue to work pro-actively with traders who are looking at an outdoor area for the first time to support their business.”

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