Swansea hospitality businesses are benefiting with hundreds of thousands of pounds in council assistance to help outdoor trading.
This includes around £1.2m committed by Swansea Council to grants for outdoor furniture.
Other assistance for business has included the suspension of fees for pavement trading licences, saving traders more than £57,000.
Those running beer gardens on private land have been among those to benefit from council help.
The assistance has been delivered over the past 10 months. It helped businesses set up and trade quickly during the pandemic and through government restrictions – and it will help the city lead the way out of pandemic.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “We awarded street furniture grants of up to £8,000 to more than 200 businesses – and suspended outdoor trading fees at more than 100 premises.
“We know how important the hospitality business is to the people and economy of Swansea and we’re confident that this assistance will see our restaurants, bars and cafés help the city to lead the way out of pandemic.”
The council offered outdoor furniture grants from July for several months. They were snapped up by businesses across Swansea, including in local district trading centres.
Grants of up to £8,000 were available, with businesses required to cover 20% of the total spend. The funding was available through the Welsh Government Transforming Towns initiative and its Valleys Taskforce grant.
Swansea BID – the Business Improvement District – offered businesses advice on furniture such as tables, chairs, large planters, awnings, large umbrellas, café-style barriers and heaters.
Other items acquired included canopies, igloo bubbles, barriers, litter bins, servery facilities and seating areas for public spaces.
The removal of licensing costs for tables and chairs on city centre pavement cafes has so far saved businesses around £57,900.
The move is helping businesses as they battle back from lockdown – and helps bring added life to city centre streets.
It was welcomed by BID which has been working with members to help them secure licenses for offering services on paved areas adjoining their premises.
Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Whilst keeping people safe, we continue to help business as best we can at this challenging time.
“By offering grants and removing costs since last summer we have given them a better chance of thriving in our post-lockdown city.”
David Hopkins, the council’s cabinet member for delivery and operations – and joint deputy leader, said: “Our work with hospitality businesses is helping keep people in work and giving residents more safe options for eating and drinking away from their homes.
“It gives businesses more incentive to invest in customer safety, helping towards avoiding another lockdown situation.”
BID chief executive Russell Greenslade said: “We’re glad to be working with the council and others to help businesses serve the public as best they can in our new-look city centre.
“The priority is to keep people safe and guard against another coronavirus spike – but we also want to give the local economy the best chance of succeeding in these difficult times.
“We’ve worked hard with the council and others to boost business opportunities – and businesses have responded positively throughout the pandemic.”
Thanks to the Welsh Government’s easing of restrictions, hospitality businesses have been able open outdoors since April 26 and could open indoors from May 17.
Social distancing still applies and customers are being asked to book ahead and understand that measures such as screens and track and trace are in place.