PUBS, cafes and restaurants across Shropshire are being advised not to put tables and chairs outside their premises for use by customers or other members of the public before April 12.

This follows reports to Shropshire Council's Trading Standards and Licensing Service that some businesses are breaching this particular Covid-19 business restriction.

The current 'roadmap out of lockdown' published by the government on February 24, makes it very clear that outdoor areas at cafes, restaurant, bars, pubs, social clubs, including members' clubs, will not be permitted to reopen before April 12 at the earliest.

Shropshire Council is encouraging hospitality businesses to use this time to consider carefully what outdoor areas they may wish to use and how this will be achieved through either the council's temporary pavement licence and/or the permanent pavement permit regimes.

Businesses must also undertake a risk assessment and identify and be ready to implement appropriate Covid-secure measures to protect staff and customers when outside areas are permitted to reopen.

Great care will also need to be taken to ensure outdoor spaces do not inadvertently become indoor spaces through inappropriate use of wooden or plastic structures, marquees, canvas coverings and other similar constructions; any space that is deemed to be indoors cannot be used before May 17 at the earliest.

Councillor Gwilym Butler, portfolio holder for Communities, Place Planning and Regulatory Services urged business to not act ahead of time.

"We understand the difficulties faced by our hospitality businesses over the last year and that in many cases business owners are desperate to boost their ability to trade," he said. "However, we have only just moved into Step 1 of the 'roadmap' at the beginning of this week and there is no change for hospitality businesses until at least the middle of April.

"I urge businesses not to jeopardise the government's roadmap plans and to stick with the rules until the green light is given for outdoor areas to reopen.

"The public health data is encouraging with the Covid rates across Shropshire reducing, but we are far from being out of the woods yet and it is imperative that all businesses continue to comply with the restrictions to secure as smooth a journey out of lockdown as possible."

Meanwhile Frances Darling, head of Trading Standards and Licencing, added: "It is disappointing to hear that a small minority of businesses are choosing to ignore the current restrictions and we are dealing with these in line with our Better Regulation and Enforcement Policy.

"It is not acceptable for us to allow this type of behaviour to go unchecked as ultimately it will undermine the government's roadmap out of lockdown and my officers have a significant responsibility to ensure this does not happen."

"Enforcement action is always a last resort and we will engage with businesses, explain and encourage them to comply with the restrictions before taking formal action; however, I wish to stress that we will take formal action if all other approaches fail."

Businesses are strongly encouraged to seek advice from the Trading Standards and Licensing Service at or on 0345 678 9026; or take advantage of a webinar that is being run on April 13 specifically for hospitality businesses based in Shropshire.