How do off-trade sales work post-Covid?

By Poppleston Allen, licensing solicitors

- Last updated on GMT

Licensing solicitor Poppleston Allen on off-trade sales after Covid

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Operators may recall that in July 2020, the Government passed legislation through the Business & Planning Act 2020 that provided a relaxation for those premises that did not have the benefit of off-sales provision on their premises licence.

It enabled the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises up to 11pm as long as there was already on-sales permission on the licence until at least that time.

The relaxation also permitted premises to allow customers to take alcohol outside their premises in an “open container” until 11pm even where there was a condition on the premises licence that otherwise restricted this.

Relaxation set to end

Finally, the relaxation also permitted alcohol to be sold for delivery up to 11pm, even where there was a condition on the premises licence that otherwise prohibited this activity.

The relaxation was subsequently extended through to September 2022, but we understand the relaxation is then going to end. The Government has stated an intention to extend the fast-track tables and chairs process, which also came out of the same piece of legislation, but there is no indication at this stage that the off-sales relaxation will be extended.

Seek licence variation now 

The net result of this is that any operators who have been taking advantage of the temporary relaxation will now need to assess their premises licence afresh and determine whether they want to apply to vary their premises licence to permit an ongoing ability to have off-sales which are not currently provided for under the licence.

While some licensing authorities may permit this under a minor variation, the vast majority will insist on a full variation of the licence that will take a minimum of four weeks to achieve. It could well take longer.

The bottom line is, therefore, that it is better to act now and seek to achieve the necessary variation of the licence such that there is no interruption of your current commercial activity.

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