Reopening your premises following the pandemic

Government guidance

The Government has issued guidance documents to pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and other licensed premises both open and hoping to reopen. The guidance details how licensed businesses can open safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Guidance for hotels and other accommodation is available on the Government's website, along with guidance for pubs, bars and restaurants. 

Business and Planning bill

Parliament is currently considering the Business and Planning Bill. Whilst yet to be enacted (it is thought that this may come into effect at the end of July), the changes proposed will allow off-sales without the need for an application, including delivery of alcohol in the following way:

If you only have off-sales on your licence

Firstly, premises that are not currently authorised to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises at all (in other words “on sales only”) will be authorised to provide off sales until 30 September 2021 without the need to make any application to the licensing authority.

Any restrictions on the licence are suspended in so far as they are inconsistent with this new authorisation for off sales. For example, if you had a condition stating "No off sales” this would not apply.

If you are already permitted on and off-sales

For premises are already authorised to sell alcohol for consumption both on and off the premises, the following conditions or types of conditions are suspended:

any conditions restricting the time when an off sale may be made (when the premises is also open for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises)

  • any condition that would prevent alcohol being sold in an open container (for example a condition requiring off sales to be in sealed containers only)
  • any condition that would prevent off sales where it is a sale for delivery
  • In other words, if you have on sales and are open for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises then you can provide off sales in open containers to the times you are permitted for on-sales

Exceptions

Premises with on-sales only who hope to benefit from the additional off sales permission do not qualify if a "Disqualifying Event" has occurred in the previous three years. This would include if the licensing authority had refused to grant a premises licence authorising off sales, or to vary a licence to include off sales, or if the licence was varied to explicitly exclude off sales.

Duration

Permissions for both premises previously only with on sales and those with existing on and off sales under this section will continue until 30 September 2021 or until the permission is revoked or excluded.

Enforcement

There are provisions for a so-called 'Off Sales Review' which is similar (but separate to) the existing summary review procedure.

A responsible authority can apply for an Off Sales Review at short notice and the licensing authority must decide within 48 working hours (weekends are excluded) whether to take any Interim Steps against the licence. For those who have simply been granted off sales for the first time those interim steps could include excluding off sales from the licence or suspending those off sales.

For those who already have off sales but are benefiting from suspension of conditions relating to time, sealed containers or deliveries the licensing authority can amend those conditions, no doubt restricting the manner of off sales or possibly even preventing them.

An interim steps hearing can take place without the licence holder but operators do have the opportunity to request a further hearing to review those interim steps. There is also a mandatory full review hearing 28 days after the application was made by the responsible authority but again this only relates to the issue of off sales and the rest of the licence and its permissions are not open to restriction or modification.

It is also possible to appeal against the decisions both for interim steps and the final review.

Government guidance applies to England only.

Further guidance

We have put together some information to assist you with the measures you will need to consider before reopening your premises:

How to prepare for reopening your premises - guide (pdf 152KB)

Donwloadable polite notice to customers of licensed premises (pdf 215 KB)

Guidance on operating your ice machine safely (pdf 159 KB)

Guidance on using your soda gun safely

  • Wash hands in warm soapy water and thoroughly dry before working on dispense equipment
  • Remove the nozzle from the gun. If it is difficult to remove, soak the soda bar gun in a clean container of carbonated water for 5 minutes. If still cannot remove phone your soft drinks supplier for assistance to ensure equipment is not damaged
  • Take a cleaning brush and clean in and all around the nozzle with the brush to remove any syrup build up
  • Soak the nozzle and gun in the sanitising solution for no longer than 20 minutes or in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Rinse the nozzle in clean water as per the instructions given by the sanitiser producer, air dry and reattach the nozzle
  • Wipe all the outside surfaces with sanitiser and a clean cloth wipe (or sanitiser wipes). Include buttons, handle and nozzle (use bottle brush to get residual from under and around buttons)
  • Rinse and wipe dry with a clean cloth (water should be cold)
  • Press each button to flush out any residual sanitising solution into a cup or drain
  • Clean the drip tray with a sanitiser solution, removing any build up of syrup in the tray
  • Do not remove buttons, button plates or heel. This is a pressurized system and should only be dealt with by a trained technician
  • This is only a guide. Please consult with the soda gun manufacturer who may have their own recommended methods for cleaning their brand of soda gun

More advice for reopening businesses

You can find further information on preparing your business for reopening on our coronavirus business support pages.

Guidance from UKHospitality.org.uk: COVID-19 secure advice and risk assessments for hospitality businesses (.pdf 1MB)