Frequently Asked Questions

How will you make things as safe as possible to ensure another outbreak couldn’t be linked to Soho?

This proposal won’t take place until rules have eased enough to allow hospitality businesses to re-open. However, we are taking every precaution to make sure the strictest safety and hygiene standards are in place, to limit any potential risk to visitors or staff.

What will happen to vehicle access to the area?

Vehicle access to the area will be stopped from 5pm to 11pm week days and 11am-11pm weekends, to allow for set up and clear down each day. There will be access to the area for emergency services, but all other access will be on foot. We have been working with Transit Studios on the traffic flow of the area to ensure there are provisions made for deliveries, parking, emergency access, waste management etc.

Can you describe the parameters of the festival?

This will be an extension of the existing table and chair licence, which businesses currently hold, plus additional space in the carriageway for the premises who do not hold licenses. This is a temporary measure to help businesses survive. This will be alfresco dining, with socially distanced tables and chairs.

How will waste disposal be managed?

As waste disposal is generally done in the morning, most of the regular collections will be unaffected. It is also proposed that all operators appoint WCC to manage their waste during this period, to synchronise collections.

How will the emergency services access the area?

Appropriate streets will be identified and kept open for access. There will be a code of conduct agreed in case of emergency, and there will be a walkway through each street to allow access to the emergency services. There will be no fixed seating, and tables and chairs can be easily moved in the unlikely event of a full-scale emergency.

How will people be given confidence to come to the area?

There will be clear advertising regarding all the safety measures that have been put in place, and the public will be made aware of the precautions they need to follow to come to the area, which will align with government guidelines.

Where is the room for people to walk, if tables and chairs are spread out?

A walkway will be kept through the streets to allow a safe route through. In addition to this, restaurants, pubs and bars will all be table and chair only, to avoid groups of people gathering.

How will the noise be controlled to not disturb residents?

This is an alfresco dining festival, so there won’t be much additional noise. No music or sound systems will be on the streets – music will only be able to be played inside the venues, as normal.

How would the social distancing be enforced?

All tables and chairs will already be set out at a safe social distance, and visitors will be required to stick to the guidelines set out by government.

How would construction works continue in the area proposed for pedestrianisation?

Construction should not be affected at all.

Will patients be able access Soho Square General Practice, which also houses a Covid-19 centre?

The clinic will remain accessible to patients.

What safety measures will be put in place for people drinking on the street, to make sure it doesn’t become a nuisance?

Visitors to restaurants, pubs and bars need to be seated, no groups will be allowed to stand and gather.

How can you balance fairness between businesses with wide shop fronts, and therefore the ability to host more people outside, and more narrow shop fronts?

These decisions rest with Westminster City Council.

Will there be a publicly produced agreement which is understood by all, enforceable and which all participating venues sign up to?

All hospitality businesses already have a fit and proper licensee to ensure the safe and lawful use of their premises and outdoor space.

What are the proposals around location, times, days and duration?

We had suggested to pedestrianise the area during weekdays from 11am to 11pm, and all-day Saturday and Sunday.
We have achieved 5pm to 11pm on Monday to Friday and 11am to 11pm on weekends.

Will how long will this run for?

This will run until the end of September 2020, and be for one year only.

It is suggested that 11pm is an acceptable time for the streets to reopen.

11pm is an acceptable time for streets to reopen, which also stands in line with the rest of Westminster, who have to take tables and chairs in by 11pm

It is proposed that the start time during the week would be 5pm. This is to allow residents, businesses and offices access for deliveries and waste collection. Tables could be set out from 4pm to allow this.

Trading time will start as per normal hours, the barriers will be in position from 5pm. This is in line with government guidelines. The lunch time trade is absolutely essential to these businesses, and as the sole purpose for this initiative being to help businesses survive the financial downturn, they must be given as much opportunity to host customers as possible.

Regarding the restaurants and businesses outside of this area, is it fair to not include them, and can that be maintained?

Each area has been asked to appeal to the council. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch with us.

Will cyclist be allowed into the area?

Cyclists will need to dismount before entering the area.

Access for residents’ cars and parking needs to be considered. If residents’ parking is to be suspended on the closed streets, then perhaps parking (e.g. Brewer Street NCP or on Poland Street be made available for residents with cars.

We have no authority to commandeer private car parks. We believe parking queries, as put to them, have been resolved by WCC.

Will pedicabs be allowed into the area?

Pedicabs will not be allowed into the area whilst the streets are pedestrianised.

Will taxi drivers be able to pick up and drop off in Soho?

Taxi drivers will need to pick up and drop off around the perimeter of the pedestrianisation.

Will there be disabled access?

There will be a walkway through each street, that will allow disabled access.

Restaurants should run the tables and chairs outside of their premises and should be waiter service only. No takeaway food should be part of the scheme.

Restaurants will run their own tables and chairs and be waiter service only. We have no authority to remove permission granted by government to allow businesses to offer take away food. Take away delivery drivers will need to park on subsidiary streets and walk to their pick-up or delivery point.

Will there be an estimate of the numbers needed to make the scheme successful? This needs a capacity target and mechanism to manage this, with numbers controlled.

We are not able to guarantee that this scheme will be successful, as people are currently unwilling to travel to the city centre. Smaller businesses will not open until they see potential customer return. All businesses will be responsible for controlling their own numbers.

Will you implement a booking system for each venue?

Each venue has decided for itself. Some have virtual queue apps, some virtual ordering from your table, and some not.

Where will people use the toilet, and how will these areas be kept safe?

Each venue has been introduced to Safe Group, which cleans and certifies premises to remain Covid-19 free for up to 30 days. Safe Group issue each premise with a certificate to confirm this, which each business can display to reassure customers.

There is concern around drinking, drunkenness, drug use, anti-social behaviour and the need for social distancing when people are intoxicated. There needs to be strong and clear rules to prevent drunkenness, agreed by all the premises concerned and conveyed to all guests/customers.

As with all industries that have reopened after lockdown, we rely on people to follow the appropriate government rules.

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