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Cars to be banned from another part of Oxford city centre to allow for outdoor dining

Part of George Street is being pedestrianised from next Saturday.

The city council says there's less traffic passing through at the moment - and the move will help 11 hospitality businesses get back up and running, whilst maintaining social distancing.

Bars and resturants will be able to put tables and chairs out between New Inn Hall Street and Cornmarket, from 10am to 9pm. 

Similar moves are already happening on St Michaels and neighbouring Cornmarket. 

Oxford City Council is working with Oxfordshire County Council on the plans to pedestrianise George Street from August 22nd to September 20th.

Ask Italian, Bella Italia, Black Sheep Coffee, Chozen Noodle, Franco Manca, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, O'Neill's, Oxford Brunch Bar, The Grapes, and Wig and Pen are all set to move to outdoor seating from then.

Eamon O'Sullivan, General Manager of O'Neill's Oxford at 37 George Street, said: "Having the ability to let guests use outside spaces is a key factor in the continuous provision of safe places to eat and drink in Oxford city centre.

"Working together with the Councils and other associated authorities, we can create new beginnings that will help drive income for business and ensure that our guests are being well looked after.

"We at O'Neill's Oxford are really looking forward to embracing the future of hospitality, and the provision of outside tables and chairs is the perfect start on George Street."

Leah Villacorta, General Manager of Oxford Brunch Bar, said: "As an independent business, we have drastically felt the impact of Covid-19. Although the government initiatives are helpful, we are always looking for a way to improve.

"We feel that the temporary pavement pedestrianisation is an excellent next step to support the many businesses on George Street. We hope to see improvement in sales and general foot traffic to George Street, not just for cafes but also for the restaurants and shops."

The road will be closed to all motorised vehicles, but a two-way central cycle lane will be retained through the road closure for bikes.

The bus stops on George Street will also be marked 'out of use' during the pedestrianisation,

Pedestrianisation measures are being examined by the City Council's inclusive travel focus group, which includes people with disabilities and those representing disability charities.

The group was established in May to scrutinise changes and make recommendations for an inclusive economic and city centre recovery.

The council says hospitality businesses have been invited to apply for a licence to operate in the street, including serving alcohol.

But they will only be able to serve alcohol to those dining, so people will not be allowed to drink without dining in the new outdoor areas.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: "In this sunny weather, we're seeing people come together to enjoy great food, great company, and great times. After locking down for so long, people want to be together.

"Businesses need support to serve as many customers as possible and giving George Street back to the people by emptying it of vehicles is the right solution.

"Our part pedestrianisation is, of course, a trial run, but we'll be watching and learning as we do with all trials.

"We're proposing at least two bus gates for our economic and city centre recovery. Bus gates are the key that unlock more pedestrianisation, more protection for businesses, and more patronage of public transport."

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