HOSPITALITY businesses in Ludlow and south Shropshire will be stopped if they fall foul of Covid-19 rules and create indoor spaces outdoors.

Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing service is advising cafes, pubs and restaurants to think very carefully about how they are promoting the use of their outdoor space for drinking and dining in line with step two of the Government’s roadmap out of the third lockdown.

Hospitality businesses will have welcomed the relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions that has allowed them to reopen from April 12, but they must ensure customers are served outdoors.

This has led to businesses finding creative solutions to ensure the outdoor drinking and dining experience is more enjoyable for their customers.

It has, however, also led to complaints about businesses promoting their outdoor areas with digital images of marquees, gazebos and other structures that clearly show them with a roof and more than two sides in place. If businesses allow customers to be seated inside these structures, then this will be a clear breach of the current restrictions. There will be insufficient ventilation, which will increase the risk of transmission of the virus, and put the health and safety of customers and staff at greater risk.

Council officers who are following up these complaints are finding that in many cases the images have been taken for promotional purposes, and there is no intention that all sides of the structures will be in place when customers are seated.

Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s head of trading standards and licensing, says the authority wants to help businesses.

“We want to support businesses in their efforts to recover from the serious impact that coronavirus has had, and to do so in a way that is positive for both parties,” she said.

She added that advice is available for businesses.