Pubs and Bars to return to Pre-COVID rules on Alcohol Sales

When does the easement of alcohol sales off-premises end?

The regulatory easement of alcohol license provisions ends 30th September 2023. The easement was designed to sustain bar and pub sales during and after the pandemic, running from 2020, due to expire in September 2022 but was extended. The regulatory easement allowed pubs and bars to serve customers off premises, through thatched doors or open windows for example, and meant many pubs could stay open and, in all likelihood, reduced permanent closures.

outdoor pub

Prior to the regulatory easement ending, and the return to pre-COVID rules of only on premise sales for alcohol, the Government has held a consultation, pitching questions to leaders of the hospitality sectors and license holders. They were asked questions including whether they believed off-sales should apply to on-sales licenses, as well as concerning the safety of off-sales, and on pavement licenses.

When will the temporary event notice increase end?

The consultation also concerned temporary events notices. To ease difficulties for bars and pubs during and post the pandemic, the limit on how many temporary events licensed premises were allowed per year was raised from 15 to 20. This increased the maximum number of days on which temporary events may be held from 21 days to 26 days per year. This is set to be reversed on December 31st 2023. As of 31st March 2023, there was a 33% decrease in temporary event notices, so there is an argument that the increase in temporary event is not necessary.

When will bar and pub pavement licenses end?

Temporary pavement license provision will also be ending 30th September 2023. A pavement license allows businesses to place furniture and serve outside their premises, this was essential for bars to sustain business during the pandemic.

“Read more about The pavement license effect”

What did the consultation reveal about opinions on the end of the regulatory easement?

Upon consultation with sector representatives, they were asked: Are you aware of any change in the level of crime and anti-social behaviour as a result of the off-sales easement?

35% answered yes. 65% answered no.

Yet when asked: Do you agree that the regulatory easement should be made permanent, meaning that any on-sales premises licence holder is automatically able to do off-sales without any need to amend their licence?

39% answered yes. 61% answered no.

It was evens for the answer of agreement on whether the annual allowance for temporary events should return back to 15 per year. 52% said yes and 48% said no.

Again, many believe a change in the level of crime and anti-social behaviour was not associated with temporary events increase. 28% said yes and 72% said no.

With many not wanting the Business and Planning act to be extended; 33% yes, 67% no; it looks like December 2023 will be the last we see of the increased events ruling.

Can bars sell alcohol off the premises without an off-sales license?

After the revert back to pre-COVID rules, applications for amendments to a premise’s license will be looked more favourably on in future, says the Government. To review and apply for a new alcohol license, see the government’s information on how to apply for a premises licence.

What businesses require an alcohol license?

Hospitality businesses that require an alcohol license are all those looking to sell alcohol, these include:

  • pubs
  • bars
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • nightclubs
  • late-opening cafes
  • bingo halls
  • takeaways
  • village and community halls

To apply for a licence, you will need to complete an application form and send it to your local council, along with the fee. 

What information do I need to provide to acquire a pavement license for my pub and bar?

Pubs and bars looking to maintain their pavement license will need to apply for a new pavement license. Here is the information the government says bar and pub premises need to provide in order to receive a pavement license:

  • specify the premises and, the part of the relevant highway to which the application relates;
  • specify the purpose (or purposes) for which the furniture will be used which must be to sell or serve food or drink, and/or for use by other people for the consumption of food or drink. In both cases the food or drink must be supplied from, or in connection with relevant use of the premises;
  • specify the days of the week on which and the hours between which it is proposed to have furniture on the highway;
  • describe the type of furniture to which the application relates, for example: tables, chairs, and/or stalls;
  • specify the date on which the application is made;
  • contain or be accompanied by such evidence of public liability insurance in respect of anything to be done pursuant to the licence as the authority may require; and
  • contain or be accompanied by such other information or material as the local authority may require, for example how national and local conditions have been satisfied.

Local authority may require additional information, this information should help local authorities make a swift decision:

  • a plan showing the location of the premises shown by a red line, so the application site can be clearly identified (some authorities may require this on an OS Base Map);
  • a plan clearly showing the proposed area covered by the licence in relation to the highway, if not to scale, with measurements clearly shown;
  • the proposed duration of the licence (for e.g. 3 months, 6 months, a year etc.);
  • evidence of the right to occupy the premises e.g. the lease;
  • contact details of the applicant;
  • photos or brochures showing the proposed type of furniture and information on potential siting of it within the area applied;
  • evidence that the applicant has met the requirement to give notice of the application (for example photograph);
  • (if applicable) reference of existing pavement licence currently under consideration by the local authority
  • any other evidence that shows how the furniture to be introduced is in accordance with national guidance regarding accessibility (such as use of good colour contrast, suitable physical barriers around chairs and tables and or other appropriate measures); and
  • any other evidence needed to demonstrate how any local and national conditions will be satisfied, including the ‘no-obstruction’ national condition.

I’m confused – Who do I talk to about arranging licenses for my bar or pub?

Contact NDML today to learn more about the rules around alcohol licenses, pavement licenses and any legislation involving your hospitality business. Our account handlers are experienced and adept, ready to answer any of your questions and help your guide your pub in the right direction.

Our mission at NDML is to support hospitality businesses in any way we can. Contact us for expert support and up to date information.