Lockdown No.2 – Implications for hospitality operators - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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Lockdown No.2 – Implications for hospitality operators

Lockdown No.2 – Implications for hospitality operators

4th November 2020 - Published by Kuits licensing team

Just after 4pm yesterday (November 3rd), the Regulations governing the second England-wide lockdown were laid before Parliament. Whilst they will be debated today, their requirements will take effect tomorrow and therefore it is vital that hospitality businesses quickly understand their implications and what they can and cannot do.

Restricted Businesses

The starting point is that restricted businesses must close, this includes hospitality businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bars, social clubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs.

Premises which usually provide food and drink for consumption on the premises must close and cease to do so. This closure also applies to any adjacent external seating area.

However, food or drink provided in a hotel by way of room service is not considered to be provided for consumption on the premises, so may continue. Additionally, where a restricted business forms only part of a larger business, it is only the restricted element that must close. For example therefore, a supermarket with an on premises café must only close the café.

There are also some exceptions in terms of consumption off the premises. Much has been made on the ‘ban’ on takeaway alcohol and subsequently it’s reversal, but matters are more complex than this. Whilst alcohol may be sold for consumption off the premises, it must only be done in specified ways.

Should cafes, pubs, bars or restaurants wish to provide items for consumption off the premises, they can only do so if they:

-Sell food or non-alcoholic drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 05:00 and 22:00 by any method – so customers may enter the premises to collect their takeaway

-Sell food or non-alcohol drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00 (during the late evening and early hours of the morning, subject to their premises licence in terms of hot food/drinks), only by the following methods:

      • Delivery
      • Drive-through
      • Pre-ordered click and collect – but customers must no go inside the premises to collect their order

-Sell alcohol at any time, subject to their premises licence, but again, only by the following methods:

      • Delivery
      • Drive-through
      • Pre-ordered click and collect – customers must not go inside the premises to collect their order

As such, in no circumstances should customers be entering a restricted business premises to collect alcohol to takeaway.

Businesses will need to think quickly about how this might be practically implemented. For example, this would appear to create a strange anomaly for premises offering both food and alcoholic drinks, as alcoholic drinks cannot be collected inside a premises, but food can. A customer pre-ordering a meal and a bottle of wine for collection pre-10pm would therefore, seemingly, be able to collect their meal from a member of staff inside, but have to be provided with their wine without entering the premises.

Off Licences

Off licences and licensed shops selling alcohol are not subject to the above restrictions and therefore do not have to close. They may simply trade in accordance with their premises licence. This provision expressly includes breweries, so they can also continue to operate for consumption off the premises.

It appears that on trade premises can also repurpose themselves as a shop should they wish to trade solely as an off licence. Therefore, for example, a wine bar may reconfigure themselves as a wine shop, by for example removing seating and using shelving to sell packaged/sealed wine. They could then operate without restrictions in terms of delivery, drive through and click and collect. However, a pub trying to offer draught to take away would not be operating as a shop and would therefore be subject to the restrictions. Similarly, any premises offering freshly cooked/prepared food to take away would not be a shop, but somewhere selling pre-packaged food may well be.

Get in touch with a licensing solicitor in Manchester

These matters are not clearly defined as yet and indeed the Government guidance appears to conflict with the Regulations.

As such, any business with specific queries as to whether their proposed lockdown style of operation is legal can get in contact Kuits head of licensing Felicity Tulloch for more advice at felicitytulloch@kuits.com on 0161 838 7888.

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