Licensing service update COVID 19 (Coronavirus)

Coronavirus and Licensing

Update 26 June

Many businesses will be worried about the impact that the current coronavirus outbreak will have both in the short and long term. 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 21 March 2020 with more changes due to come into force on 4 July 2020.

Whilst the latest changes to the Regulations permit some premises such as hair salons and barbers, pubs, bars and restaurants to reopen (subject to being able to meet certain requirements), a number of premises including beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo parlours, tanning salons, nightclubs, gyms, leisure centres, indoor play centres, and bowling alleys must remain closed. The full and complete list of premises that can open or must stay closed is available to view on the government website.

If premises fail to comply then a person carrying on the business (which can include the owner, proprietor, manager, and in relation to a corporate body, a director, secretary or other similar officer) may face prosecution and a fine. 

Below we have answered some of the key questions relating to the uncertainty and disruption brought by COVID-19 and the potential impact on your licence.

Licensing Act 2003 (sale or supply of alcohol, late night refreshment and regulated entertainment)

What do I have to do before I can reopen my pub/restaurant/cafe?
You will be able to reopen your premises from 4 July 2020 if you are able to comply with the Government Guidance for working safely during Coronavirus ensuring you, your staff, and customers are kept safe.  

  • Risk Assessment: You must ensure you are able to meet the Covid-19 secure requirements by carrying out a specific risk assessment and implementing any changes identified
  • Management of Food & Drink: You can open and allow customers to make use of the inside seating areas of your premises but only table service will be permitted and must be used alongside other measures as identified in your risk assessment. Customers not seated inside will be required to leave. Table service should also be used in outdoor areas where possible.
  • Customer contacts: You must keep a record of your customers' and visitors' details for 21 days to assist NHS Test and Trace. As a minimum you should record customers' full names and contact telephone number along with the date and time of their visit. Further information can be found in the government guidance on maintaining records to support NHS Test and Trace.
  • Waste management: Contact your waste collections provider to reactivate your collection where these have been suspended. Consider whether additional collections or additional bins are required to manage any increase in demand such as from single-use items that may need to be disposed of.

Who can I contact about making changes to my premises to ensure it is Covid-19 safe?
Please keep in mind that changes to the layout of your premises may require an application to be made under the Licensing Act 2003. Before making any changes, please contact the Licensing Team for advice. If you need assistance with developing your Covid-19 Risk Assessment, please refer to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance available online.

Who will make sure that the new Regulations are complied with? 
Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards Officers will monitor compliance with the Regulations, with Police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and premises that breach them may be subject to prohibition notices, fixed penalty notices or prosecution.

We are preparing to reopen but my Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) has called in sick and has to self-isolate. Do I need to specify a new DPS?
In circumstances where someone is self-isolating because of concerns about possible Covid-19 symptoms you do not need to apply to vary the DPS. We would however advise that the DPS make sure, now, that their letter of authority is current and up to date to allow deputies, assistants and other staff to operate the business in their absence. Template authorisations are available from the Licensing Team. If your DPS will not be returning to the business, you will need to apply to specify a new supervisor immediately.

My annual fee was due whilst my premises was shut, can I reopen without paying it or pay a reduced fee to reflect the time my premises has been closed?
Whilst the Government has made a statement in relation to the payment of business rates, unfortunately no such statement or relief has been provided in relation to payment of annual fees due under the Licensing Act 2003. You will therefore need to ensure that you pay your annual fee as usual in order to avoid your premises licence being suspended. If your fee was due during the period your premises was closed, you will need to pay before you resume trading.

How long are the new rules likely to last for?
The new measures come into force on 4 July 2020 and will be reviewed by the Government regularly. 

Massage and Special Treatment Licences - London Local Authorities Act 1991 (as amended)

How long are the rules likely to last for?
Beauty premises, nail bars, tattoo parlours and tanning salons are able to offer certain treatments from 13 July 2020. No treatments can be provided on the face until Government Guidance changes. In addition, saunas and steam rooms must remain closed until further notice.

Who will make sure that the regulations are complied with? My premises have closed but I am concerned that others may try to continue to trade when they shouldn’t?
Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards Officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and premises that breach them may be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines.

I’ve received a renewal reminder, what should I do?
You should complete and return your renewal form to us as usual. Completed forms can be scanned and emailed to [email protected] If you allow your licence to expire and then wish to trade in the new few months, there is likely to be a delay whilst we deal with your new application (if you let your licence expire, you may not resume trading until a new licence has been issued), so you must return your renewal form to us when you receive the reminder.

I’ve completed my renewal form but I can’t afford the fee, what should I do?
We appreciate that a number of businesses will be struggling financially especially as they must remain closed into the summer. If you think you will be unable to pay your renewal fee, let us know. Given current circumstances, we are currently able to defer the paying of Special Treatment renewal fees for a period of three months and will issue you a temporary three month licence upon receipt of your renewal form. At the end of the three month period we will review the situation.

My premises are still closed in line with Government Regulations, what happens to my licence?
If your licence is about to expire and you do not think you are likely to trade for a considerable period of time, you may wish to let the licence lapse. You must ensure that you do not provide any licensable treatment after the expiry date of your licence, even when the Regulations are lifted.

If in the next 6 months you wish to begin trading again, we hope to be able to offer returning businesses the option of paying the renewal fee, as opposed to the higher fee for a new application.

Tables and Chairs Permits (Street Cafes) - Highways Act 1980 (as amended)

I’ve received my invoice for 2020-21 and I can’t pay it, what can I do?
If you’ve received your invoice and can’t pay, please do not panic. We know that these are difficult times and will do all that we can to support local businesses. In the first instance, if you can not pay, please get in touch and let us know by emailing [email protected] 

I don’t think I am likely to trade in the near future, what should I do?    
If you don’t think you will be trading for the foreseeable future, you may wish to let your permit expire. You can make an application for permit at any time and the fee for a new application and renewal are identical. Keep in mind that Tables and Chairs permits run from 1 April to 31 March in any year so if you apply mid year, you will not get a full 12 month permit. 

If you apply for a new permit in the future you will not require planning consent assuming the hours sought and number of items you wish to place on the highway are the same as previously authorised.

Can I use my outside seating again from 4 July?
When you carry out your Covid-19 Risk Assessment you should include the outside area covered by your tables and chairs permit. It is likely you may need to reduce the number of covers available in your outside area to comply with social distancing, but subject to any changes identified in your risk assessment you may utilise your outside seating from 4 July onwards. Please note that if you have not yet paid your 2020-21 invoice, you will need to do so before you place the furniture back on the Highway. 

I paid my 2020-21 invoice but won’t be able to utilise it until 4 July, will I get a refund?
Currently, all invoices must be paid before furniture can be placed back on the public highway. We are currently looking at whether partial refunds will be granted or whether licence terms can be extended to replace restricted trading periods. As soon as a decision is made the website will be updated and we will notify you.

Street Trading Permits - London Local Authorities Act 1990 (as amended)

I trade from a designated pitch, can I resume trading?
All Street Traders are permitted to resume trading. You should make sure that you follow government guidance on ‘Working Safely During Coronavirus.’ This is being reviewed on a regular basis so do check back for updates. You must notify us when you return to your pitch and ensure that future invoices are paid within the required timescale. 

I don’t want to trade but I’m worried I will lose my pitch, what do I do?
If you do not wish to trade or are unable to trade due to illness/isolation etc, please let us know by emailing [email protected] Given current Government guidance, you will not be penalised for failing to use your pitch.

My licence is due for renewal, what should I do?
You should complete and return your renewal form to us as usual. Completed forms can be scanned and emailed to [email protected]

For more information supporting businesses in Kingston visit our COVID 19 business page.