The Government has “had a change of heart” and has decided to extend licensing laws introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic which allows pubs to sell takeaway beers.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is said to have personally intervened to stop the rules from changing, which means pubs will be allowed to continue selling takeaway pints to help them boost income.
Taking to social media the Prime minister said: “I’ve heard the British pub industry loud and clear – takeaway pints are a boost for their businesses and our economy.”
The move, which saw customers served through hatches during the pandemic, was due to expire on 30 September but will now continue until March 2025, and also means that pubs will no longer need to apply for permission from their local council if they want to continue selling takeaway alcohol.
During the pandemic, the government said it would find a permanent solution to support pubs when it implemented the temporary off-premise sales exception in July 2020, as the country emerged from its first lockdown.
Through the relaxed rules, pubs and bars were able to sell alcohol directly onto the street within the area covered by any pavement license.
The Night Time Industries Association welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision and said that Rishi Sunak’s intervention now eliminates the need for a separate application process, ensuring that businesses can sustain off sales operations. This extension also upholds the licensing easement introduced in July 2020, designed to offer support to the struggling pubs and bars during the ongoing crisis.
NTIA’s CEO, Michael Kill, hailed the decision as “a display of common-sense prevailing”, highlighting that this decision will maintain continuity in trading for businesses that have relied on off sales for the past three years, a provision initially implemented in July 2020.
Kill added that this decision will provide essential relief to pubs and their business operations. He emphasises the sector’s significant contribution to both the economy and the social fabric of local communities.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the government had to realise that on-trade venues were still operating “under immense pressure” and Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the move would offer an “extra revenue stream to mitigate the rising costs”.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls welcomed the move, and said that pavement licenses had constructed special areas for such sales outdoors and night czar Amy Lamé said it was “excellent news for our hard hit hospitality businesses”.