UK Pubs Allowed to Continue Selling Takeaway Pints as COVID Licensing Rules Remain
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has personally intervened to prevent changes to COVID licensing rules, allowing pubs in England and Wales to continue serving takeaway pints. The decision comes as a relief to the struggling hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
During the lockdown restrictions in 2020, pubs were given permission to serve customers through hatches, providing a lifeline for many businesses. Originally, these rules were set to expire at the end of next month. However, after listening to industry feedback, Prime Minister Sunak decided to reverse the decision.
The Sun newspaper, which first reported on the story, quoted a Number 10 source saying that the prime minister had “listened to the industry and heard them loud and clear.” The source added, “Now is not the time to call last orders on takeaway pints and the boost to business that they bring.”
This means that pubs will no longer need to seek permission from their local council to continue selling takeaway alcohol. The Home Office stated that councils, drinks retailers, and residents’ groups had preferred a return to pre-COVID rules.
However, some industry representatives have expressed concerns about the decision, citing potential “unnecessary regulation” and uncertainty regarding council approval for individual premises. Despite this, the change has been welcomed by hospitality leaders.
Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, praised the move, stating that it would provide pubs with an “extra revenue stream to mitigate the rising costs.” Pubs have been struggling to recover from the pandemic, particularly with the recent increase in energy prices.
The decision to allow pubs to continue selling takeaway pints comes after Prime Minister Sunak faced heckling during a visit to a London beer festival. The visit was intended to mark alcohol duty reforms aimed at supporting British pubs. Under the new system, alcohol will be taxed based on strength rather than the previous categories of wine, beer, spirits, and ciders. Some drinks, such as wine and gin, will become more expensive, but the government has promised to keep the levy on draught beer and cider up to 11p lower than shop-bought alcohol.
The decision to maintain COVID licensing rules for pubs selling takeaway pints is a positive step for the industry, providing much-needed support and an additional revenue stream. With the ongoing challenges faced by pubs due to the pandemic, this decision will help them on the road to recovery.
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