The process of applying for pavement licences will be sped up by the Bill, which enables local authorities to delegate decisions to sub committees and council officials. It has now passed through Parliament after an amendment to adjust smoking guidance for venues, as reported by The Morning Advertiser, and will now cost venues no more than £100.
Gareth Hughes, licensing and planning barrister at Keystone Law said the most interesting amendment to the Bill was the introduction of the new pavement licensing regime.
The Bill commits local authorities to take into consideration the needs of disabled people when considering whether to grant a pavement license, similar to the procedures within the Highways Act.
Hughes added: “Non-smoking areas will also need to be provided by businesses that are granted pavement licences. Whether this makes any difference to non-smokers remains to be seen.”
The Bill implements an off-sales curfew of 11pm and means any new permissions will not allow the sale of alcohol for consumption in outdoor areas of the premises that are already restricted by the premises licence.
Hughes explained: “The idea here is that making off-sales of alcohol easier will help the hospitality industry to recover more quickly, but in a way that does not encourage antisocial behaviour.”
The risk of transmitting coronavirus is reduced when outside meaning many venues have looked to maximise capacity in their gardens and outside space. The Government’s social distancing guidelines also allow up to six different households to socialise when outside but just two for indoors.
Kate Nicholls, UKH chief executive said the body looked forward to working with local authorities to ensure businesses could use these new permissions successfully.
She said: “The hospitality sector is beginning to reopen, but its recovery is still in the balance. That means we need dynamic, responsive support to ensure that businesses have the best possible chance to succeed. These measures will free up venues to operate more flexibly at a time when every bit of help will be vital to their future survival. We look forward to working with local authorities to ensure businesses can use these new permissions successfully.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association agreed that the expedited process would be welcome news to the sector.
She said: “All pubs are challenged with operating with reduced capacity. These fast-track temporary pavement licences will be welcomed by publicans and customers alike. They give some pubs the opportunity to access more outdoor space to serve more customers, which should help them on their road to recovery.
“Pub goers will certainly enjoy the freedom of being able to order a proper pint of draught beer, whilst soaking up the summer sun outside the pub.
“For those pubs in more urban areas that do not have a pub garden, being able to use extra outdoors space is particularly good news.”
The Government has updated its guidance on the new licensing process on its website.