English tourism hotspots will receive financial support in the form of a "Welcome Back Fund", the UK government has announced. All English seaside resorts will get support under funding designated for towns by the sea.
Housing and communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced a £56m ($77.7m) package to help coastal towns and high streets to reopen as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
The money will allow local councils to improve the "look and feel" of areas with renovations of green spaces, expansion of outdoor seating and an increase in markets and pop-up food stalls.
“Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely," Jenrick said.
He added: "As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants."
Jenrick also announced that every pub in England can "erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power" to support locals. Businesses such as pubs and restaurants, including where "these premises are in listed buildings," will be allowed to use their land more flexibly to set up marquees and provide more outdoor space for diners as measures ease, to allow them to serve more customers and recover from the coronavirus crisis, the government said.
This means pubs will be permitted to host marquees in their gardens for the duration for summer, as opposed to the 28 days currently allowed and caps will be introduced on private parking fines to encourage motorists to visit towns.
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government also said the funds could be used for publicity campaigns or to create events including markets and festivals.
Additionally, around 70 councils will also benefit from "targeted, hands-on support" from the government’s high street taskforce — an "elite team of high street experts" who will offer advice on adapting to "meet changing consumer demands."
It comes after the government also unveiled £100m funding for 266 local authorities across England to cushion the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms from the coronavirus crisis.
The funding, which is part of the government’s commitment to “building back fitter”, allows leisure centres to plan reopening with certainty, the government said.
Step three of Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown will allow indoor adult group sports and exercise classes to be permitted to resume from 17 May.
The £100m comes on top of local authority funding also being increased in the Budget, with an additional £1.5bn for 2021-22 financial year to be made available to councils.
Prime minister Boris Johnson set out a four stage roadmap to guide England out of lockdown in February. Stage one saw schools reopen on 8 March as well as allowing people to meet with one person outdoors.
Under stage two which is due to come into effect on 29 March will see the stay at home order lifted, the return of the rule of six and outdoor sport for children and adults resume.
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