FOOD and drink could be sold from street stalls outside pubs, cafes and restaurants within weeks to help trade.

The move aims to ease York out of lockdown before pubs and eateries welcome back customers, potentially from July.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick is expected to announce shortly that businesses with existing licences for tables and chairs at the front will be allowed to set up market-style stalls instead. A Whitehall source said it could lead to a “more vibrant style of continental town centres”.

Street markets selling food and drink are already permitted to trade, while pubs, cafes and restaurants are able to run as takeaways.

Independent cafe owner Beatrice Wright, of Bean on the Green, Heworth, closed her cafe and furloughed her staff, but has been "inundated" with orders since starting up her weekend pizza deliveries and collections again three weeks ago.

A street-style stall outside would attract further trade from people shopping at neighbouring Love’s Greengrocers in East Parade and the Post Office, she said.

“There are so many people going out for walks; they can now sit in the park. Every day there are big queues outside the Post Office. The footfall is probably higher now than before.”

Beatrice said she remained optimistic, and is looking at making the best use of space for when cafes fully reopen with social distancing measures.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: “While this is all speculation at this stage, we would welcome specific detailed science-led guidance which would allow clarity to businesses to open while continuing to protect the health of our residents. We are already working with partners and businesses across York to understand their challenges and ideas as they explore ways to reopen safely.

“We will keep working together to give business owners, employees and customers confidence that any new arrangements offer a safe environment in which to enjoy the best of York.”

The government is looking at ways to reopen parts of the economy which can operate outdoors as scientists are advising that transmission of Covid-19 is much lower in the open air.