Off-site but nearby
Q: I own a gastropub and I know that under the emergency measures to tackle coronavirus the pub must be closed except for takeaways and deliveries. I am operating a takeaway service and adjacent to the premises is a public seating area with picnic benches. During normal times, this area is often used by customers of my pub and a neighbouring café to enjoy food and drinks outside. Can I sell takeaway food and drinks to customers seated in this area?
A: In short, no. The emergency regulations relating to closure of premises expressly state that an area adjacent to a premises where seating is made available for customers – whether or not it is made available by the business – is to be treated as part of the business’s premises and must be closed.
I appreciate that if you do not own the furniture or are not, ultimately, responsible for this space it may be difficult to force customers not to sit there, but, you should tell customers that they cannot consume the takeaways there and you may want to put up a notice to this effect.
If the external area is maintained by the local authority, you may want to contact them to ask that the area is closed off. If you own any of the external furniture then you should bring it inside or render it unusable.
Q: I run a small pub with five guest rooms above. I have closed the pub due to coronavirus but I am not sure what to do about the guest rooms as some of my current guests are from abroad and they are struggling to get home. Can my guests still stay?
A: The Government guidance is clear that any businesses providing holiday accommodation (including hotels, hostels, B&Bs and more) should be taking steps to close for commercial use as quickly and as safely as possible.
There are, however, exceptions to this. As well as exceptions for providing residence to support key workers or vulnerable groups, there is also an exception for providing housing to people who are not able to return to their primary residence. As such, if your guests are genuinely unable to return home then you can remain open for those guests.
Q: I run a relatively small festival in June every year. Due to the ongoing crisis surrounding coronavirus, I have taken the decision to cancel the festival, however, I am interested in the possibility of postponing it to later in the year in case things improve. I have a time-limited premises licence, which I have to apply for each year. Is it possible for me to postpone under my current licence?
A: This will depend on the term of your current licence and the conditions attached to it. If your licence is time-limited to very specific dates, you may need to amend the dates by way of an application. However, if your licence is granted for a ‘window’, eg, May to September, or for the entire year, then you will have more flexibility for choosing a date.
You will also need to bear in mind the licence conditions, because large-scale events are typically required to provide notice to local authorities and residents of event dates and operational management plans within certain time-frames.
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