Peers to urge Government to ban outdoor smoking at cafes

13 July 2020, 06:03

The proposed ban could be added to legislation designed to kickstart the hospitality industry
The proposed ban could be added to legislation designed to kickstart the hospitality industry. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Government is set to face calls to ban smoking outside at pubs and cafes amid the Covid-19 pandemic in exchange for permission to serve "pavement drinks", it has been reported.

A cross-party group of peers is set to table an amendment to emergency coronavirus legislation which will temporality relax licensing laws in order to boost the hospitality industry.

Reports in the i newspaper suggest the proposed amendment will seek to ensure pavement licences are only granted subject to the condition that smoking is banned.

But, there have been warnings that attempts to start a Continental-style “cafe culture” over the summer must not be at the expense of public health by allowing smoking at tables.

The cross-party peers are set to table an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill, ensuring that pavement licences are only be granted by a local authority subject to the condition that smoking is banned.

How pubs can safely reopen after lockdown

Liberal Democrat Baroness Northover told the newspaper she held concerns over the potential for the move to encourage public smoking.

"Reducing smoking in public places has been hugely important for improving public health in the UK. However, with pavement licences being introduced to help support our hospitality industry, the Government should not allow this to become an excuse for increasing smoking in public places," she said.

"More and more people are spending time with friends, family and loved ones outside. We must ensure that these new pavement areas can be enjoyed by all."

VAT to be cut to 5% for hospitality businesses

Anti-smoking campaigners have backed the amendment, with particular concerns held over the potential for pavement licences to put people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told the paper: "We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants return to work safely by making it quicker, easier and cheaper for them to set up outdoor seating and street stalls to serve food and drink.

"Councils will be able to set local conditions for licences. As set out in supporting guidance, councils should consider public health when setting these conditions."