Pubs left in limbo over alcohol sale rules

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Lifeline needed: pub trade bodies have urged the Government to give the sector more freedom to sell alcohol in lockdown
Lifeline needed: pub trade bodies have urged the Government to give the sector more freedom to sell alcohol in lockdown

Related tags Alcohol coronavirus lockdown Legislation Health and safety Beer

The Government has remained tight lipped when pushed on pubs’ permission to sell alcohol during England’s third lockdown.

Lockdown laws state that pubs cannot sell alcohol products to be picked up to takeaway, click-and-collect or by a drive through and can only be delivered to fixed addresses.

Trade bodies and operators have slammed this move, calling it another sign of pubs being unfairly treated within the Government’s coronavirus measures.

However, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) caused further confusion when it suggested pubs with off-licences could not sell alcohol to be picked up on site.

The Morning Advertiser​ (MA​) asked for confirmation that pubs with off-licences could sell alcohol to customers on-site still.

The MA​ also asked if customers visiting shops on pub premises would have to pre-order any alcohol they wished to buy.

The new legislation will not allow pubs with off-licences or other shops on site to operate for alcohol sales, BEIS suggested. 

Clarity needed

The MA​ has sought to clarify this stance and will update its coverage with a response accordingly.

Consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has pushed the Government to allow pubs to sell takeaway products in sealed containers “just like shops do”.

CAMRA’s national chairman Nik Antona said:  “It is absolutely unfair that whilst big supermarkets can continue to sell alcohol, our struggling local pubs in England can’t act as an off licence too.

He added: “The least the Government can do is take a sensible approach, think again and allow community pubs to sell takeaway products. No-one wants to see drinking in the streets during a lockdown – but allowing pubs to sell alcohol in sealed containers for people to take home – just like shops do – would be completely reasonable.”

Hopes for more guidance

What’s more, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has suggested ministers are examining the “various permutations” of alcohol sales by pubs.

The Government partially U-turned on a decision to ban takeaway drinks during the country’s second national lockdown in November.

“Alcoholic drinks can be taken away from an on-trade venue if a purchaser collects food or drink that has been pre-ordered by website, phone call, text or post, and provided the purchaser does not enter the premises,” The MA reported at the time.

The MA​ also asked BEIS to explain why pubs were limited on selling alcohol in the lockdown while supermarkets faced no additional restrictions. Any response will be added to this article.

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