May 17 easing continues amid discovery of new Covid variants in Hackney

Residents say the night-time economy is shifting away from Old Street Roundabout towards areas like Shoreditch High...

Covid variants of concern have been found in parts of Shoreditch and Dalston. - Credit: Holly Chant

Pubs and restaurants across Hackney will be allowed to open indoors from today as businesses in the borough continue to navigate the new and uncertain landscape.

The wider reopening, which will see groups of six people or two households able to mix inside, comes only days after coronavirus variants of concern were found in Dalston and Shoreditch

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville urged all those reopening or going back to work today in the affected areas to get a test.

At a recent Town Hall meeting, Omar Haque, operator of the Dalston branch of popular dessert joint Creams, gave an insight into the preparations for reopening.

Mr Haque, who hopes to be able to extend his opening hours until 1am for a takeaway and delivery service, said: “We have had to change the way we operate in terms of providing a delivery or takeaway service, so we are trying to improve our service in terms of finding new ways to get income and not lay off any type of staff or have any hits to our business.”

He explained to councillors that seating areas would be blocked off in the evening, as negotiations take place as to whether the shop’s foray into the late-night market would necessitate security guards, and if so whether Creams could afford to provide them.

The meeting saw Creams’ target of a 2am service scaled back to 1am by councillors who will be deciding whether or not to grant the application, as police present at the meeting, who were not against it being granted, predicted a large spike in visitors to the area as restrictions ease.

Licensing officer PC Kerrie Ryan said of Creams, which has been in the Dalston special policy area since 2014: "Our concern is that the customer base and people attracted to Creams after 11pm will have consumed varying amounts of alcohol. This is when it can result in confrontation and aggression.” 

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The discussion made clear the ever-increasing challenges for firms in the area.

Speaking ahead of the reopening over the weekend, Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville urged business owners and staff, “especially in Dalston and Shoreditch”, to get tested.

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