Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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Re-opening guidance for licensed premises

Government guidance on how to open premises safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 has now been published. Download the guidance: Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Please also read the coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can't do after 4 July.

Points to ensure business owners are familiar with in the guidance include but are not limited to:

  • Make every effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). You should set out the mitigation you will introduce in your risk assessments, but this also includes a rule to request that you keep a temporary record of customers and visitors to assist the NHS Test and Trace service.
  • Develop a plan for possible overcrowding - consider table bookings as well as additional security to manage and direct customers.
  • Any indoor and soft play areas should remain closed. Visit the website for guidance on opening outdoor playgrounds safely.
  • Looking at how people move through your venue and how you can adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, including a one-way flow where possible. This should include toilets.
  • In the event of adverse weather conditions, being clear that customers cannot seek shelter indoors unless social distancing can be maintained. You should monitor weather forecasts and adjust bookings to avoid disappointing your customers.
  • Minimise contact between front of house workers and customers at points of service where appropriate.
  • Encourage the use of contactless ordering from tables where available.
  • Adjusting service approaches to minimise staff contact with customers. Indoor table service must be used where possible, alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table. Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately. Where bar or counter service is unavoidable, preventing customers from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering.
  • In relation to toilets, consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form and the adoption of limited entry approach with a one in, one out. You may need to assign staff to monitor access to these locations.
  • Keep facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate but not hindering the use of operational fire doors.
  • In relation to entertainment, steps should be taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played a at volume that makes normal conversation difficult. Examples of the type of entertainment that should not be undertaken include karaoke, showing of sport and playing background music.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and visitors to your premises from risk to their health and safety. You must make sure the health and safety risk assessment for your business is suitable and enough to adequately address the risks of COVID-19, using the guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.

Compliance checks will be undertaken by council officers over the coming weeks in order to ensure your business is operating responsibly and in line with current government guidance. Please be aware that should non-compliance be found enforcement action may be taken under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Licensing Act 2003 or any other relevant legislation.

Pavement licences

To support businesses at this difficult time, the government are introducing a simpler licensing process for outdoor seating areas for pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs who may wish to use the public highway. Find out more on the pavement licences page.


Temporary off sales permission

The Business and Planning Act 2020 has temporarily modified the Licensing Act 2003 to provide for an automatic extension to the terms of most premises licences which only permit the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises to allow for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premisesThis will make it easier for licensed premises to sell alcohol to customers for consumption off the premises in England and Wales, which will allow businesses to trade and maintain social distancing.

The new off-sales permission will permit off-sales to be made at a time when the licensed premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to a cut off time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outside area, whichever is earlier. Measures also temporarily suspend existing licence conditions in so far as they are inconsistent with the new off-sales permission.

Conditions on existing dual premises licences (permitting both on-sales and off-sales) that would prevent one or more of the following are also suspended under the temporary off-sales permission:

(i) off-sales being made at a time when the premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises (subject to a cut off time of 11pm or the closure time of an existing outdoor area, whichever is earlier;

(ii) off-sales being sold in an open container; and,

(iii) deliveries to buildings used for residential or work purposes

The new off-sales permission is authorised under section 172F(2) of the Licensing Act 2003 in respect of on-sales licences and section 172F(5) of the Licensing Act 2003 in respect of dual licences.

You are not required to change either your licence or your summary to show that you are taking advantage of the permission, however you must prepare "a section 172F statement". Details of what is required to be included in this can be found on the website.

Icon for word Download an example section 172F statement [264.5KB] 

Icon for word Download an example section 172F(5) statement [239.16KB]   

The section 172F statement must be kept on the premises or under the control of the holder of the licence or a person who works at the premises who has been nominated by the holder of the licence for this purpose. A copy of the section 172F statement must be prominently displayed at the premises alongside the summary of your premises licence.

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