Off-sales Relaxation to Cease

30 May

Paul Regan of the Neighbourhood Crime Unit at the Home Office has written to Licensing Authorities regarding the ability to utilise off-sales where premises are permitted to have on sales. This permission was initially granted to help premises operate during, and recovery from, the impact of the Covid pandemic under Section 11 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 and extended by Alcohol Licensing (Coronavirus) (Regulatory Easements) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (1049/2021).

He states:

“given the absence of Covid restrictions in England and Wales, there is no legal basis for a further extension and, accordingly, the measure will lapse on 30 September 2022.”

This means premises will revert back to their former authorisations.

Many venues have become used to having the benefit of off-sales and may wish to vary their licences so as to formally add the option. This raises a question as to the nature of the application to be made - a minor or full variation and the consequential costs difference. At the very start of Covid to assist operators many licensing authorities accepted such applications as minor variations but once the dispensation was in place reverted to requiring a full variation to formalise the same.

It is therefore interesting to note a further comment made by Paul Regan “ Whilst they are not obliged, licensing committees might decide to consider whether any such applications could be decided via the minor variations process, in particular for premises licence holders who are currently taking advantage of the easements.”

Thereafter he mentions the possibility of a consultation on the easing of requirements for such applications. As ever we will keep you posted as to developments.

Law correct at the date of publication.
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