Diners brave chilly conditions as London pubs and restaurants open again

Jonathan Prynn and Joe Murphy
·1 min read
<p>Footfall was strongly up in the West End yesterday on the first day of reopening.</p> (PA)

Footfall was strongly up in the West End yesterday on the first day of reopening.

(PA)

Hundreds of diners braved near freezing winter conditions in central London last night as restaurants and pubs began serving for the first time in four weeks.

But with the temperature hovering around 4C and sleet forecast for the capital tomorrow, eating outside - the only legal option for people not from the same household who want to meet up - was more a challenge than before lockdown.

However, that did not stop many from celebrating the return of eating out despite the restrictions of Tier two status that include no mixing of households indoors.

Des Gunewardena, chief executive of fine dining group D&D London said: “I was at Bluebird Chelsea alast night and it was absolutely packed inside and on the terrace, there was a great buzz.”

Footfall was strongly up in the West End yesterday on the first day of reopening. Business group Heart of London Business Alliance said the number of people in the area around Leicster Square, Piccadilly and St James’s was up 75 per cent on last week.

Meanwhile so-called wet pubs were handed a possible lifeline when a minister today confirmed they can serve food from local takeaways to drinkers.

“There’s got to be a substantial meal – and the pub’s really got to be providing that meal,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Sky.

PA
PA

A Whitehall official told the Standard that food must be ordered and paid for via the pub, and not carried in by drinkers. Neither can drinkers sit down and order a Deliveroo takeaway.

“But it is fine for a pub to serve fish and chips cooked by the local chip shop, or to make an arrangement with a nearby restaurant to serve meals cooked outside,” said the official.

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