Social Club “Loophole” Closed

The government has closed a “supposed” loophole in its coronavirus alert system which would have permitted members clubs and social clubs to serve alcohol during the restrictions.

According to reports some clubs were exploiting a loophole in the phraseology of their licensing agreements in order to serve its members alcoholic drinks.

Drinking establishments in areas with the highest restrictions are banned from selling alcohol unless they can operate as a restaurant and serve a “substantial” meal alongside the booze.

However because of the wording of a club premises certificate, held by members clubs including likes of social/political clubs and working men’s clubs, alcohol is not sold to members but “supplied”.

Preston Council posted advice stating membership based social clubs “do not sell alcohol, instead they supply alcohol to their members”.

“Therefore the requirement to close does not apply to these premises and nor do these premises need to provide a substantial meal to club members or their guests when they are drinking”.

The British Beer and Pub Association’s chief executive Emma McClarkin said the organisation was “aware of this inconsistency and are raising it with government to get clarity”.

“Given the circumstances they find themselves in, it is vital, more than ever, that pubs have a level-playing field with clear guidance,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “For areas in (Tier 3), any pub, bar or other business, including social or members clubs, cannot sell alcohol for consumption on the premises unless it is served alongside a substantial meal.

“We are asking everybody to play their part to reduce potential periods of exposure in an indoor environment.”