Boost for restaurants, pubs and cafes as takeaway services are extended

Restaurants, pubs and cafes will get automatic freedoms to provide takeaway services for another year, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced yesterday (12 November 2020).

The measures are aimed at helping these businesses to continue to serve customers and retain their staff. It will also help them adapt to longer-term changes they may wish to introduce, such as serving their customers from market stalls.

This follows Robert Jenrick relaxing rules in March so businesses could offer a takeaway service during the pandemic, without having to go through a planning application process. This was due to end on 23 March 2021 but will now be extended by another year. The government will also consider whether to make these reforms permanent.

Whilst pubs and restaurants are currently restricted from selling alcohol on their premises to take away (but can still provide delivery or click and collect) due to the national covid restrictions in England, the law before March would have restricted pubs and restaurants from choosing to only offer food takeaway services.

The freedoms introduced in March and now extended mean pubs and restaurants can focus on selling food takeaways if they choose to, while being able to return to operating as a pub or restaurant from 2 December.

In July, the government also made it easier for businesses and communities to host markets and stalls. Mr Jenrick has today extended this option for the whole of next year. Again, the government will consider whether to make these reforms permanent.

The government also helped businesses offer more alfresco dining by making it easier and less expensive to get an outdoor seating licence and is similarly keeping this under review.

Under the national restrictions currently in place, markets can sell takeaways from stalls. However, the stalls must not have seating areas.

These measures build on the extra government support provided to help businesses and protect jobs. Including an extension of the furlough scheme at 80% until the end of March, grants of up to £3,000 for premises that must close, and £1.1 billion for councils to enable them to support businesses in their area.

Commenting on the announcement, Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality says: “The ability to provide takeaway services was a valuable lifeline for many hospitality venues, not just during the lockdown but in the days of reduced and restricted trade, too.

“The extension will undoubtedly help many. For pubs, restaurants and cafes to operate as takeaways gives them a previously untapped revenue stream and a much better chance to survive what will be a tough winter. It will help avoid waste and allow businesses to retain a valuable link with their customers and communities.”

Our business support specialists in the Hospitality sector remain available to assist businesses during this difficult time. Please contact Matthew Burge for further information and business support.