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UK's Al Fresco Culture Change – Creating Safe Outdoor Dining Spaces

UK's Al Fresco Culture Change – Creating Safe Outdoor Dining Spaces
15 August 2022

As al fresco dining has become increasingly popular and cemented in UK culture, FMs are calling on the hospitality sector to ensure their outdoor areas are compliant and safe to use.

More restaurants and bars are embracing al fresco, especially following the recent record-breaking temperatures.

The pandemic also inspired a boost in outdoor dining. In 2021, a relaxation of planning rules which meant marquees could be installed in pub and restaurant gardens without the need for planning permission proved popular. The changes to permitted development rights were first introduced as a temporary measure to boost high streets and small businesses during lockdowns but were made permanent after a public consultation.

However, facilities management company MSL Property Care Services says business owners need to ensure their outdoor spaces are safe for staff and customers.

“The right maintenance needs to take place to ensure outdoor spaces remain compliant and safe for the general public”  said Jeremy Harrison, Managing Director of MSL.

“Everything from your furniture to doors, walkways and ventilation need to be considered.”


Planned Maintenance for Outdoor Hospitality Spaces


Implementing a maintenance schedule can help your business stay ahead of potential issues in outdoor spaces. Inspections will help ensure any issues are identified and acted on before they can escalate into larger problems and bigger repair fees.

Your schedule should include checking things such as:


  1. Automatic and manual doors
  2. Lighting and heating equipment
  3. Ventilation in outdoor or temporary buildings


Jeremy continues: “Incorporating a planned maintenance schedule into your business provides an excellent opportunity to not only save money on maintenance costs down the line, but also ensure business continuity. Inspections are especially crucial when dealing with outdoor facilities as inclement weather can lead to a range of issues arising that your indoor space wouldn’t be exposed to.”


Reactive Responses for Hospitality Maintenance


Outdoor spaces are likely to succumb to a range of problems from things such as poor weather, vandalism or increased wear and tear. Having a reactive team on hand to respond to any issues that arise, will help get your business back up and running in a timely manner.

Reactive teams can respond to a multitude of issues including:


  1. Pest control
  2. Flood damage
  3. Vandalism


Daily checks for Outdoor Dining Spaces


Ensuring the space is always clean and tidy is an integral part of customers having a pleasant and enjoyable dining experience. Having checklists with daily checks can help maintain this, and ensure customers are kept as safe as possible.

Restaurant staff therefore need to consider the following pointers to reduce any potential risk:


  1. Ensure walkways are clear of trip hazards
  2. Ensure there is nothing hanging from a roof cover
  3. Ensure the space is weather protected
  4. Ensure the floor isn’t a slip hazard
  5. Serve drinks in plastic cups to avoid broken glass
  6. Report any general issues they see


MSL advises that business owners consult with professionals to ensure their outdoor spaces remain compliant. You can find more in MSL's guide to the Importance of Health and Safety Compliance in Hospitality.

Picture: a photograph of an outdoor dining area with tables and chairs, umbrellas and plants.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 August 2022


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