Reopening the Hospitality Sector

Today’s blog comes from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Strategic Planning and City Design.

As anyone who lives, works or studies here will attest, Bristol likes a night out, and we’re fortunate to have a wealth of independent restaurants, bars and venues showcasing our diverse and vibrant culture.

The announcement that social distancing rules are to be reduced from 2 meters to 1 meter plus, where 2 meters cannot be maintained and suitable mitigation measures are in place, will be encouraging to many in the hospitality sector. But challenges remain. Although the road back to trading will start when restrictions begin to ease from 4 July, social distancing measures are set to remain in place for some time and the future for many in the sector is uncertain.

As a sector that directly or indirectly supports the employment of around 91,600 people, representing 34% of the city’s overall jobs, we know how important it is to work with our night time economy.

We have been engaging with the sector throughout the crisis to identify ways in which we as a local authority can support businesses to adapt, survive and build back stronger. We have been signposting to available support, distributing grants to eligible businesses and lobbying for increased provision where it is lacking. We’ve also had a team of staff visiting more than 3,000 premises as businesses start to re-open their doors to the public to ensure they are safe and prepared.

Work has already begun to close some road roads to traffic, which will allow more space for people to travel safely around the city, and pavement-widening schemes are being introduced in local shopping areas such as Bedminster Parade, Stapleton Road, St Marks Road and Clifton Village to allow businesses to implement social distancing measures.

As rules begin to be relaxed, we know how important an effective track and trace system will be to support the sector to remain open and we will continue pushing for this to be delivered. Clear health and safety guidance will help with both business and customer confidence – businesses can find this on our website.

We also recognise how critical it is for us to have a robust outbreak management plan locally to avoid a return to the blanket lockdown measures that have been so damaging to business. As a local authority, we will be communicating this with businesses and we appreciate your full cooperation to ensure we keep our city safe and moving.

We know we must keep listening. Acknowledging this, and the challenges that lie ahead, we’ve been in discussion with BARBIE and the Bristol Food Union to organise a series of webinars with the aim of co-designing the solutions needed to support the sector.

These are intended to bring together clusters of businesses in certain areas across the city, acknowledging that one size will not fit all when it comes to what each business and each area requires to re-open. We’re keen to see businesses come together to think about what they will need as they plan to share physical space. This will allow us to be smarter about how we start to get the city eating, drinking and socialising again.

With some funding from the council to deliver this piece of work, BARBIE has approached businesses in identified areas and we look forward to getting the outputs of these meetings, which are kicking off today. Details are below and you can contact or visit their website for more information.

  • Tuesday 30th June, 5pm to 6.30pm – STOKES CROFT, ST PAULS, MONTPELIER
  • Wednesday 1st July, 1pm to 2.30pm – ST MARKS RD, STAPLETON RD, CHURCH RD AND NEARBY STREETS
  • Thursday 2nd July, 11.30am to 1pm – GLOUCESTER RD, ZETLAND RD, ASHLEY DOWN RD, KELLAWAY AVE, CHELTENHAM RD (to Cloak and Dagger) AND NEARBY STREETS.

The areas that have organised above represent particular streets where there is a high density of bars and restaurants and don’t have Business Improvement Districts such as Broadmead or Bedminster to work through. We know it is certainly not exhaustive and want to work with the whole city to get this right.

Businesses can get in touch with us at or go to our website to make a request to use the space outside their venue. 40 businesses have already had initial approval to do this and we welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with businesses who feel this could help them.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our businesses that have been working so hard in recent months, not just to stay afloat but to support the city. Despite facing an extraordinarily challenging situation, the sector has come together to provide meals for key workers and vulnerable citizens in a show of phenomenal community spirit. The past few months have seen many businesses really step up to support the city in a way that should make us all feel proud.

As we begin to recover from this crisis, we need to think about the kind of city we want to re-build. I can’t imagine a Bristol that doesn’t have a thriving night time economy at its heart, so it’s vital that we act now to support a sector that gives us so much.

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