Confusion about alcohol takeaways for pubs

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Information needed: the trade has urged the Government provide further clarity of the restrictions
Information needed: the trade has urged the Government provide further clarity of the restrictions

Related tags: Legislation, Beer, Alcohol, Siba, Camra, Government

The pub trade is calling for clarity on serving takeaway alcohol while shut, ahead of the nationwide lockdown and enforced closure of hospitality this week (Thursday 5 November).

Information on the new national four-week long restrictions was released over the weekend (Saturday 31 October) after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the measures.

The guidance states: “Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.”

The Morning Advertiser ​understands this means pubs cannot serve takeaway alcohol where a customer collects the alcohol in person from the pub but can deliver it to customers off-site.

The Morning Advertiser ​contacted the Cabinet Office for more clarification on this and was directed to the guidance and was told further guidance will be issued before the law comes into effect on Thursday. We will continue to push for more information on this and update.

Trade response

This has been slammed by industry bodies including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which has written to the Cabinet Office to demand the removal of the restriction.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “Offering alcohol for takeaway was a lifeline for many pubs, and particularly breweries, during the first lockdown in England. It is a baffling and damaging decision to remove this option, particularly when other businesses such as supermarkets can continue to sell takeaway alcohol.  

“Pubs and breweries were already reporting losses and the risk of closure before Christmas, and this will only add to the risk of permanent closures within the next few months. CAMRA and the entire pub and brewery industry are now urging the Government to reverse this bizarre decision and ensure the survival of our pubs and breweries. 

“We are encouraging all concerned consumers to write to their MP and request the scrapping of the takeaway sales ban to give pubs and brewers in England a better chance of surviving the lockdown. This also needs to be accompanied with a sector-specific support package to avoid permanent closures, otherwise the damage to communities across the country will be irreparable.” 

UKHospitality is also calling for the move to be overturned and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) labelled the rule as “non-sensical”.

SIBA chief executive James Calder said: “As if a second national lockdown in England wasn’t disastrous enough for pubs and independent breweries, the Government has gone further this time around and introduced an unjustified restriction banning pubs from selling takeaway beer, a service which was the only source of income for many businesses during the summer lockdown. This is baffling considering supermarkets will presumably still be allowed to sell packaged beer, while small breweries and pubs will not.

“It is nonsensical to impose these new restrictions when pubs have time and time again proved that they are Covid-secure, both during lockdown when takeaway was their only option and since pubs reopened on the 4 July."

Urgent clarification needed

He added: “After discussions with ministers and departments over the weekend we’re aware that this is being considered now by members of the Cabinet and need the Government to urgently clarify the following, before regulations are put to Parliament on Wednesday:

1.    That pubs can continue to sell takeaway alcohol. If not, provide us the evidence for why they cannot. 
2.    Clarify that online sales from breweries, delivered to consumers homes can continue as they did throughout lockdown. 
3.    Clarify that breweries with an on-site shop operating click and collect or brewery pickup can continue to sell beer to consumers. 
4.    That bottle shops and shops run in brewery premises should be considered, like off-licenses, as essential retail and allowed to remain trading. 
“The Government has time and time again failed the independent brewing sector by not providing the support we need. We now need to see, in addition to this clarification: 
1.    The evidence that pubs are a major source of the transmission of the virus, justifying their closure. 
2.    An extension of business rate holidays and grants to Breweries 
3.    An extension of the VAT cut to 5% for independent brewery beer
4.    Full and identical support offered to breweries that has been, and will be offered to pubs."

Related topics: Legislation

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