Market Square event organisers "amazed" at popularity of dine-out event

Three people, two of whom are in Hi-Vis, stand under a gazebo

Volunteer Michelle (left) with BID chair Julie Redfern (right). Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden's Market Square became a Covid-safe seating area in a bid to help the town's hospitality industry yesterday (April 5).

The transformation is part of a three-day event between Wednesday, May 5 and Friday May 7, which will be repeated next week.

Alfresco in the Square organisers from the Business Improvement District (BID) said they were pleased to see so many residents enjoying food and drink bought from the town's shops in the square.

A board: "Alfresco in the Square"

Alfresco in the Square. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Julie Redfern, BID Deputy Chair, said: "I think we are absolutely amazed.

"It was not what we were expecting this morning, to see so many people before lunchtime.

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"It's here to support our members because they have not all got the capacity to host customers inside."

Alfresco in the Square began at 10am and saw 79 visitors in its first hour-and-a-half of opening, despite a forecast of patchy rain and hail throughout East Anglia yesterday.

A town square with tables scattered around it for social distanced dining

Saffron Walden goes Alfresco in the Square. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

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The event is designed to support the town's businesses ahead of further lockdown easing, expected on May 17, when businesses can invite customers indoors once again.

Currently, businesses can serve take-aways. They can also hold outdoor dining and drinking, but only if they can provide social distancing.

Bernie and Steve Juden were at the Square with their granddaughter Amelie.

Two adults sit around a table. One of them holds a baby.

Bernie and Steve enjoy an alfresco coffee on the square. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Bernie said: "It is a lovely idea, particularly now the sun is shining."

Residents Jean and Judith said they were pleased to be able to eat and drink together outside in the fresh air.

Jean said: "This is a mark of how well our town puts in extra work to keep us all together."

The event takes place between 10am and 4pm, and has been paid for by BID members.

A maroon tent with big white letters: "#SupportLocal". Three people stand beneath

The Alfresco in the Square team, including volunteer Michelle (left) and BID Deputy Chair Julie Redfern (right). Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

The BID said residents are invited to consume food and drink from any take-away shop in the town on the square during the event.

Shara Vickers, BID Chair, said: "We really hope lots of people will be around and enjoy food and drink bought from our outlets, shared with family and friends!

She added: "We're excited to be running Alfresco in the Square."

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