THE leader of Swansea Council has praised business and residents for their efforts to make the return of indoor hospitality safe across the city.
Rob Stewart has also reiterated his plea for the considerate outlook to continue.
On a visit to the city centre and Wind Street as customers began eating and drinking back inside cafes, bars and restaurants, he restated the council’s support for the local economy.
A relaxation of Welsh Government pandemic restrictions means that – from Monday (note: Aug 3) – hospitality businesses could serve customers indoors.
Cllr Stewart said: “People have started to use the safe Swansea environment – outdoors and indoors now as well – and we hope that they will continue to be responsible and to enjoy the facilities in the city centre and elsewhere.
“The message remains simple: Be safe and enjoy Swansea responsibly. The council is here to support the people of Swansea and we want them to stay safe – we don’t want to go back into a situation where we must go back into lockdown.
“As a council, we’re helping businesses to survive during the pandemic. We’re offering outdoor furniture grants of up to £8,000 for those in the hospitality business along with a fast-track licensing application system for pavement cafes.
“We’re also offering free use of public areas for this purpose where it’s safe to do so.
“We’re fully behind the business and retaining jobs across Swansea to keep people employed during this difficult time.”
Additionally, the council has put in place a trial order that means traffic only enters Wind Street four hours a day – from 7-11 am. This gives a daily window for deliveries and more opportunity for businesses to trade outside.
It will help the council deliver a more family-friendly Wind Street in the next 18 months – a project that will see around £2m invested in the destination with support from the Welsh Government, creating new seating areas, spaces for businesses to have an outdoor café-style feel, new lighting and new event spaces.
Wind Street venues with pavement cafes early this week included Savana, The Bank Statement, Hogarth’s, The Cross Keys, the No Sign Wine Bar, BrewDog and Jack Murphy’s.
Key differences to pre-lockdown include the fact that not all hospitality venues are open, eating and drinking is only allowed at tables, 2m social distancing applies and premises are being asked to take customer contact details to help with the Welsh Government Test, Trace, Protect process.
Customers are being asked to plan ahead – including checking opening times and travel arrangements and pre-booking venues wherever possible.
The council is working with partners and businesses to ensure that trading opportunities are maximised whilst keeping people safe.
Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea BID, said: “We’re pleased to see customers eating and drinking safely and responsibly indoors as well as on the outdoor areas.
“BID area businesses are working hard on the careful re-opening of the city centre – and we’ve been supporting them.
“This week’s easing of restrictions was a crucial move and it’s important that we all continue to play our part to ensure things run smoothly.”