We understand that the Licensed trade in all its forms has been particularly badly hit by the current restrictions and that we are all being inundated with information and news.

To help our clients in this sector, our Licensing team at Knights have pulled together some of the more relevant information, and this is the second update we have published. We will make more information available as the situation develops. The first of the updates is on our website which you can see here - this looks at the options surrounding takeaway food amongst other issues

What premises can stay open?

The Government has published guidance on the closure of businesses and premises across the UK outlining a list of ‘non-essential ‘premises which must remain closed for the interim 3 week period.  You can find a detailed list of these closures and exceptions on the Gov.Uk website by clicking here. Please be aware that this list may be subject to change and you must ensure you comply with these guidelines.  We will provide updates on our Knights plc Covid-19 web page here.

Since the original list was prepared ‘Off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries’ have been included within the exceptions and can remain open.

The updated guidance states that takeaway and delivery services can remain open and operational, although businesses are encouraged to use online and telephone payment and delivery services as a preferred option.  Ordering in advance should be strongly encouraged.

It is likely that strong sanctions will be imposed on non-essential premises that are found to trade outside these guidelines.

Cash payments to all essential payments should be avoided where possible and the use of contactless card payments strongly encouraged in compliance of social distancing procedures.

Operational requirements for essential retailers:

All premises that remain open should adhere to the following:

  • Keep a distance of 2 metres between customers and shop assistants
  • Let people enter the shop in small numbers, to ensure no crowding
  • Queue control is required outside of the premises
  • Seating areas should not be provided indoors or outdoors for customers to consume food and drink

Planning changes affecting Takeaway services

Planning regulations have been changed to enable cafes, pubs and restaurants that do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. Planning authorities must be notified of any premises change of use and we can offer full practical support in such situations. See our website link here .

Compliance with Licensing Act 2003

The requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 will not be relaxed however. It is anticipated sanctions will continue to be imposed on businesses not complying with the regulations relating to the supply of alcohol.  You will have probably seen reports of Police taking action to close ‘lock ins’

If you do offer a takeaway or delivery service, you must check the terms and conditions of your Premises Licence to check that they are permitted.  You will only be able to offer sales of alcohol if your licence allows off site sales. Sales must be within your licensed hours.  Be careful how you ensure that anyone ordering is over 18 if you are running a telephone ordering and delivery service.

Any provision of hot food and hot drinks made available for takeaway or delivery between the hours of 23.00 and 05.00 must also be authorised as late night refreshment.

Any amendments required to authorise the sale of alcohol for off sales or deliveries or the provision of hot food/drinks after 23:00 hours will require a formal variation application which we can of course assist with.

Disruptions to licence applications and hearings

In light of the inevitable disruptions to all working practices during this time it is anticipated there will be delays and amendments to local licensing committee processes. There is currently an intention to continue hearings and determinations and local authorities remain ‘open for business’ although we expect to increased determination times and changes to hearing formats in compliance with social distancing guidelines. Applications for licence renewals, variations and new applications should not be avoided, however.

Rent payments/business rate relief

If you are struggling with rent or rates payments please see this article on our website.  The Coronavirus legislation may help you here.

If you have any queries regarding the above, or wish to talk through any licensing enquiries in general then please contact our Licensing team.