Pub Takeaway’s During Coronavirus: The Legal Side


23 March 2020

By Elizabeth Bradshaw

Now that Pubs, restaurants, bars and clubs are now closed under Government advice many have faced the dilemma of offering a takeaway service.

On 17th March the Government granted authority for pubs and restaurants to operate as a hot food takeaway during these uncertain times. The aim being that such measures would support local businesses whilst their customers stay at home.

Most publicans will see it as an opportunity to get rid of some perishable stock that will be greatly welcomed in the community with the alcohol shelves in supermarkets being cleared by those fearful of the Pandemic. Many of these businesses are selling at cost price, hoping that the community will repay the favour when they can once again open their doors and resume their livelihood.

Those considering this option for their business MUST look at their licence. The current plans to relax and allow the takeaway service doesn’t cover those who don’t have off sales authorised on the Premises Licence. Such authority would need to be obtained from your local council or an application to vary the conditions of your licence.

This then leads to other questions that you are going to have to consider. If you are supplying local pub grub to your community does your licence cover late-night refreshment which is required for hot food and drink sales between 11pm – 5am? And how are you going to check that those using the service are old enough to use it?

This, unfortunately, is a time when your measures to keep your business going and supply jobs to your staff can be abused. You must be vigilant to verify the age of your customer. In addition, if you are offering the service how will you keep your staff safe, you need to avoid the risk of contracting the virus or passing it to others but there could be other implications; if your delivery uses a car that has never needed to be insured for business purposes or your staff are robbed of the alcohol and/or cash.

Many are adapting their business to deal with the new demand. For those that have made these adaptations to their business, they are hugely welcomed by the community and often done for no profit. Bigger company’s such as Brew Dog are offering a click and collect service for beer food and spirits. These are unprecedented times and businesses big and small are trying to keep the Economy going, despite being one of the first to close in order to avoid unnecessary social contact.

What must be remembered is that all of these measures are being put in place to save lives and support our NHS staff. If the closure of the business is ignored, there will be repercussions. This could result in the loss of licences and unlimited fines.

Closures are now enforceable by law. Environmental Health and Trading Standards supported by the police if necessary will monitor compliance. Anyone that continues will contravene the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 and will commit an offence.

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