Pub marquees row in Parliament as South Shields MP takes on Health Secretary Matt Hancock over outdoor hospitality rules

A South Tyneside MP has taken the Government to task over mixed messages on pubs and restaurants using marquees under restrictions around outdoor hospitality.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:11 pm
A waitress carries pints under a marquee on Monday, April 12, 2021 (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Venues serving food and drink were allowed to reopen for outdoor service from April 12 as covid restrictions eased, and many businesses in South Tyneside have created new al fresco seating or invested heavily in existing outside areas.

But with British weather proving unpredictable, particularly in the month of April – where snow has been seen as well as sunshine in recent days – South Shields’ MP Emma Lewell-Buck quizzed the Government on the rules around shelters for outdoor hospitality.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says she is supporting South Tyneside businesses as they reopen after the easing of the lockdown.

Ms Lewell-Buck asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock why hospitality venues can serve inside marquees but not inside other Covid-compliant environments.

Speaking in a session in the House of Commons on April 13, she said: “Yesterday, many hospitality venues remained closed. Those who could open erected large marquees and were able to recover some of the losses that they have suffered.

“Others were completely dismayed as (it) is very clear that there is no difference at all between some of these marquees and well-ventilated, Covid-secure indoor hospitality.

“So can the Secretary of State explain what he perceives the difference to be?”

Matt Hancock replied: “Yes, the definition of outdoors used in these regulations is the one set out by the Labour government in the ban on indoor smoking.”

Some firms, supported by the MP, told the Gazette they had faced frustrating waits over outdoor seating permissions, and felt there had been conflicting advice from council officers.

But South Tyneside Council cited its dedicated team set up to help businesses as lockdown eased, and other ways it was supporting businesses, including fast-tracking pavement cafe applications and waving fees.

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.