Welcome clarification on government guidance: premises that must remain closed

An expert in the hospitality sector has reported some clarification for pubs wishing to operate takeaway services following the Government’s Coronavirus ‘lockdown.’

Malcolm Ireland, head of Leisure & Licensing at regional law firm Napthens, reports that many clients were contacting his team to check the newly announced rules.

He said: “Initially, the government guidance listed both public houses and restaurants as businesses that must close but with no exceptions for public houses.

“Restaurants, on the other hand, were subject to an exemption that they could continue to operate deliveries and takeaways.

“However, the guidance has now been clarified and provides a similar exemption for ‘restaurants and public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments.’

“It should be noted that whilst planning regulation is being relaxed to enable this, licensing is a separate regime so any restrictions on your premises licence will still apply.”

The guidance has also offered some clarification for breweries that wish to operate off-sales, with an exception in the retail category for ‘off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries.’

“But just because a business could operate through take-away and delivery does not mean it should.

“Where the business can be sustained by operating through take-aways and deliveries then the decision is likely to be simple, but for others there are a lot of variables: the well-being of employees, health and safety, employment law, access to finance and business support – they must all be considered.

“Any business struggling during this time should contact their professional advisers for clarity.”