Licensing service COVID 19 (Coronavirus) update

Coronavirus and Licensing

Updated 5 November 2020

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) (No.4) Regulations came into effect on 5 November 2020.

Whilst the latest changes to the Regulations permit some essential retail businesses (such as supermarkets, food retailers and hardware stores) to continue operating, the majority of premises including beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo parlours, tanning salons, nightclubs, gyms, leisure centres, indoor play centres, and bowling alleys must close. The full and complete list of premises that can open or must stay closed is available to view online. Retail premises that may not open to the public during the lockdown period may continue to take and despatch orders for delivery and customers may collect orders that they have made in advance either online, by telephone, text or post. Customers must collect from an external collection point and may not enter the premises at any time.

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)

I am a food business, can people still come into my premises to buy food and drink?
Customers may enter food businesses and purchase food and/or non alcohol drinks for consumption off the premises up until 22:00 daily. After 22:00 customers must not enter the premises. Food and/or non alcohol drinks may be delivered after 22:00, and customers can collect from the premises any orders they have made in advance ('click and collect') so long as the food or non alcoholic drink is ordered in advance online, by telephone or text. Premises may also permit customers to collect orders by way of drive through whereby the order is passed to the customer without them exiting their vehicle.

Please note that any sale of hot food or hot drinks after 23:00 daily is considered to be Late Night Refreshment and you may only offer this service if you hold a premises licence which authorises you to do so. Your permitted hours for Late Night Refreshment must be complied with as usual. 

I run a restaurant/bar/pub, am I allowed to offer takeaway alcohol for customers?
Customers may not enter the premises at any time to purchase alcohol. All sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises must be by delivery.

I run a restaurant/bar/pub and hold a premises licence that only permits 'on sales' of alcohol, is there any way I can sell alcohol to customers for them to consume at home?
On 22 July 2020, the Business and Planning Act 2020 determined that premises who already held a premises licence permitting the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises, would also be allowed to provide off sales. For premises where both on and off sales were permitted, the Act removed any restrictions placed on the licence in relation to off sales. These permissions are temporary and expire on 30 September 2021. All sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises must be by delivery, click and collect (pre ordered by web, phone, text, post) whereby the customer does not enter the premises to collect their order, or drive through whereby the order is passed to the customer without them exiting their vehicle.

I obtained a premises licence after 22 July 2020 and it only authorises 'on sales'/ has conditions restricting off sales, what does this mean for me?
Any businesses who obtained premises licences after 22 July 2020 are unable to make use of the temporary permissions granted by the Business and Planning Act 2020. You will need to abide by the restrictions of your licence, but may provide food and/or non alcoholic drinks in line with the requirements set out above.

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.

My annual fee is due during the lockdown period, 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 is due during the period your premises is closed, you will need to pay before you resume trading.

How long are the new rules likely to last for?
The new measures came into force on 4 November 2020 and are due to end on 2 December 2020.

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

How long are the rules likely to last for?
The new measures came into force on 4 November 2020 and are due to end on 2 December 2020.

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 once the lockdown period ends, 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.

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

Can I use my outside seating for customers who purchase takeaway from me?
No. Businesses must not make any provision for food or drink to be consumed on the premises, this includes any external seating area that you provide. You must make sure that all outdoor furniture that you provide is removed or made inaccessible to customers for the duration of the lockdown period.

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

I trade from a designated street trading pitch, can I carry on trading?
The Regulations permit food traders and food markets to continue trading. Unfortunately, if you are not a food trader, you must cease trading on your pitch until the Regulations are lifted or amended.

Last Modified: 23/03/2021 16:46:13

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