A POPULAR restaurant has been forced to cancel its bookings for the next month after being told by the council its outside dining space didn't meet Covid requirements.

The Green Room and the North Hill Hotel, in North Hill, Colchester, has been forced to close its outside greenhouses after being told they "don't quite" meet the 50 per cent opening requirements.

The restaurant has been forced to cancel its bookings for the next month, and will now reopening on May 17, when indoor hospitality firms are set to be allowed to reopen.

The new was announced on the venue's Facebook page.

A post said: "With sad news we have to announce the closure of our garden greenhouses and apologise to all of our customers for the many cancellations we’ll be making over the next month.

"The council visited us yesterday and have stipulated the greenhouses are not quite meeting the 50 per cent opening requirements for this reopening, and believe it’s best to wait until May 17th to reopen both garden and restaurant at the same time.

"We’ve been positive figures on our local news during the pandemic with our greenhouses a prominent feature, and they have been a joy to all customers.

"We’ve had great feedback and have spent more than a year enjoying with you the outdoor dining experience."

The restaurant opened its greenhouses last year to allow diners to eat or drink under cover in the open air.

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However it appears they are no longer allowed to open the greenhouses for diners under the latest Covid guidelines.

There has been some confusion amongst the hospitality industry across the UK about the new Government rules, with some structures which were acceptable before Christmas no longer allowed.

The post added: "We’ll be in touch with more news shortly and again, we’re sorry for the inconvenience this will cause.

"We do have our customers best interests at heart, always. Take care, stay safe and we’ll bounce back soon."

A spokesperson for Colchester Council said: “Whilst we sympathise with the owners of the Green Room and North Hill Hotel, Covid regulations are clear about the amount of space that can be enclosed outdoors.

“Given the limited amount of outside space at the premises, we have advised that two rather than three greenhouses with their sides removed would meet the requirements, but the owners have decided this would not be commercially viable and so have postponed reopening.

“The Government has requested that we apply the guidance consistently to support local businesses to reopen safely and ensure we continue down the path to a full easing of lockdown restrictions.

“We offer help interpreting the rules, if needed, but if establishments feel they cannot adhere to the requirements at this stage for commercial or safety reasons then, in the interests of public protection and adhering to the rules, the responsible approach will be to postpone re-opening to a later date.”

For updates, visit www.facebook.com/northhillhotel.