A streamlined application process will enable pubs and restaurants to get permission for on-street dining in around 10 days.
Outlining reforms aimed at boosting the hospitality sector as it prepares to reopen on July 4, Business Secretary Alok Sharma stressed there were safeguards for local councils to refuse applications if they block the highway.
The new measures, which have cross-party support, form part of the Government’s Covid recovery plan, which former Tory minister Caroline Nokes criticised as being “designed by men for men” as she questioned why barbers could open but not beauty bars.
Speaking during the second reading of the Business and Planning Bill, Mr Sharma said: “Public safety and access for disabled people using pavements is of course absolutely vital, so I can confirm that local authorities will be able to refuse or revoke licences where appropriate.”
He added: “There are safeguards in place. This extension will not include premises that have been denied off-sale permission, or had it removed, within the last three years.”
Mr Sharma also outlined measures in the Bill that would extend planning permissions that have lapsed during the Covid-19 crisis until next April.
He said: “We estimate that almost 12,000 unimplemented major residential planning permissions with capacity to deliver over 60,000 homes have lapsed or will lapse between the start of lockdown on March 23 and December 31 this year.
“Therefore this Bill introduces powers to extend these planning permissions and listed building consents to April 1 2021.”
The Bill also seeks to reduce the planning appeal process from almost a year to around six months, extend the hours construction sites can operate to stagger working times and also allow bus and lorry drivers to extend their driving licences for a year without the requirement for a medical review, to free up time for GPs to deal with Covid-19.
Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband called for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to be tough in enforcing Covid-19 safety rules in the workplace.
Labour welcomed the new measures, he said, adding: “The guidance is very clear about the mitigation and reduction of risk that is needed if one-metre plus is in place and I’m sure the secretary of state agrees that is very important.
“And it’s very important that the HSE takes a tough line in enforcing safety.”
Ms Nokes, Tory chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, said female entrepreneurs were “left to the back of the pile” in the Government’s recovery plans.
She added: “There has been an enormous amount of work done to open up the economy in a safe and measured way.
“We have seen all sorts of sectors coming back, but I can’t help but feel that this has been a recovery designed by men for men.
“And what we have seen is female-led businesses left to the back of the pile.
“It’s very obvious that men with hair need barbers and hairdressers but they perhaps find less need for pedicures and leg waxes.
“And it’s absolutely noticeable that the beauty industry has 90% female employees and the majority of them are women-led businesses. We are preventing our women entrepreneurs from getting back to work.”
The Bill later cleared the Commons after receiving an unopposed third reading. It will undergo further scrutiny in the Lords at a later date.