Off-sales and compliance with Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020
Shropshire Council’s priority during the coronavirus pandemic is to protect the health and safety of the public and to save lives. With that in mind, the council has welcomed the Government’s phased approach to reopening of businesses and is reviewing the guidance and plans for the coming months. However, we are urging significant caution when it comes to licensed premises.
The council has and continues to deliver the necessary services to support licensed businesses. We are keeping these under review in line with the Government’s advice as the response to the coronavirus develops. Since the Government introduced the legislation that enforced the closure of certain licensed premises, Shropshire Council has received numerous complaints alleging licensed premises continue to operate in breach of the legislation. Council officers have adopted a proportionate and pragmatic approach to enforcing business closure restrictions with the majority of licensed premises complying fully with the requirements.
The council is now aware of media articles suggesting pubs could re-open in July by allowing the use of outdoor areas. We want to stress to all licensed premises and their customers that this is currently not official Government advice and the legislation requirements remain in place for bars, restaurants, cafes and public houses to close their premises in which food or drink are sold for consumption on those premises; this includes any adjacent areas where seating is made available for customers. The council also strongly urges licensees to avoid the temptation to hold events, including those that may be held under the banner of a charitable purpose, as this will encourage gatherings, which are in breach of the coronavirus restrictions.
Any licensed premises with ‘off sales’ may continue to supply alcohol to the general public for consumption off the premises, providing social distancing and other public health measures are in place to protect customers and staff. The council has officers with the expertise and skills to advise and support licensees to ensure ’off-sales’ are carried out safely and licensees are encouraged to seek this advice.
Q&A’S in relation to off sales
In recent weeks we have seen relaxation in some lockdown measures and in increase of footfall in Shropshire due to the weather. We are aware that premises are supplying alcohol to the public via their ‘off sales’ as a takeaway service. Overall licensed premises have adhered to the new regulations and put social distancing measure in place to protect customers and staff, however they could still face potential enforcement under the Coronavirus regulations and the Licensing Act 2003 if the four licensing objectives are undermined.