COVID-19 - advice for alcohol licensing
Last updated: 6 January 2021 at 11.45am - further updates to follow
Following the announcement from central Government, please see details below of the National lockdown - stay at home restrictions that come into place at 00:01 on Tuesday 5 January 2021.
On this page
Business and Planning Act 2020
The Business and Planning Act 2020 has allowed for a quicker application process for tables and chairs or pavements licences. There are also new provisions for the off sales of alcohol. Further information can be found on the following webpages
Licensing Act 2003 fees are set centrally. Councils don’t have flexibility and the Act does not provide any mechanism to refund licence fees.
Premises licences are subject to an annual fee which is due on the anniversary of the grant of the licence. Invoices shall be sent when this is due.
Generally when annual fees become due but are not paid, the premises licence is suspended. This remains the default position.
Premises may be closed due to the lockdown when the annual fee becomes due. If no licensable activities are being conducted you may decide not to pay the annual fee and allow your licence to be suspended. Suspended premises licences can be re-instated upon receipt of the annual fee payment. Premises can be open with the licence suspended if no licensable activity is taking place i.e. restaurant selling food for takeaway or deliveries but no alcohol.
If you are entitled to remain open but are struggling to pay the annual fee due to the pandemic, please contact the licensing team to discuss.
Licensing applications, procedures, administrative issues and hearings
Officers are working to process licence applications within the prescribed period and deal with customer enquiries as promptly as possible. Due to reduced staffing, you may need to wait slightly longer than normal for a response, if this is the case, please bear with us.
Licensing Act applications, hearings and requests are being addressed on a priority basis. We are happy to accept applications online (Premises application guidance), by email and/or by post, although applications served by mailing services may be delayed in the current climate.
Consideration shall be given to business critical matters which may involve deferring non urgent matters. Cases will be considered on their own merits in discussion with applicants.
Dealing with non-compliance
If you are operational but struggling with specific conditions due to the pandemic, please contact us and make us aware you may be breaching conditions. We will consider each case on its own merits and weigh up the impact of potential breaches on the licensing objectives to establish if there is a need for flexibility. If it is determined that non-compliance with a licence condition cannot be temporarily disregarded, licence holders would be required to rectify any breaches as soon as reasonably practicable and with communications be maintained with your designated officer.
New emergency premises closure requirements brought in by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Business Closure Regulations’) gives councils powers to close certain businesses and other venues that involve social contact without essential grounds for this to take place. These powers are also held by the Police and other Local Authority officers.
Licensed premises found to be breaching the legislative framework in place to prevent coronavirus may face formal action with consideration towards a premises licence review application with a view to revoking the licence.
From 18 September businesses must support NHS Test and Trace. It will be mandatory to collect and store this data for 21 days. Simplified COVID-19 secure guidance is available on the GOV.UK website
When meeting people you do not live with, it is important to do so outdoors where possible, or to make sure that any indoor venue has good ventilation (for example by opening windows so that fresh air can enter).
Across all tiers, everyone:
- must wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption
- should follow the rules on meeting others safely
- should attend school or college as normal, unless they are self-isolating. Schools, universities, colleges and early years settings remain open in all tiers
- should walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling
- must follow the gathering limits at their tier except for in specific settings and circumstances.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges with disruption to society likely to last for some time. Pro-active resilience and creativity now will aid in getting back to normal once the pandemic has passed. It is not 'business as usual' for the licensed trade but the licensing team remains operational with reduced staff to assist customers in navigating the current period as effectively as possible.
This page includes information for premises licensed under the Licensing Act 2003. Our Licensing Team is maintaining services in balance of supporting local businesses whilst promoting the licensing objectives.