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Coronavirus-related briefings

First coronavirus-related briefing to aid operators

Leading licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen has launched the first of what will be regular coronavirus-related briefings, as it seeks to aid operators to combat the increasing impact the outbreak is having on their businesses.

The first starts with 10 action points, set out below, covering key aspects of licensing, including possible changes around designated premises supervisors (DPS), home delivery and training, plus links to useful articles.

1. Consider home delivery: If due to government policy you are required to close to the public, there may be an opportunity to deliver both food and alcohol to people’s doors. Consider your licence conditions now, for example whether you have off-sales and any other restrictions. Remember hot food is only a licensable activity between 2300-0500.

2. Your designated premises supervisor (DPS): You do not have to formally vary your DPS if they are ill for a short period, for example two weeks. Any longer and a variation may be required. What is crucial is that if you are selling alcohol you have a chain of authority for the sale of that alcohol. This applies to any home deliveries too.

3. Remember that no conditions bite at all if you are not carrying out licensable activities – in other words if you are shut there are no conditions that need to be complied with. This rule applies if you are closed for a period of time (e.g. days or weeks), but not simply if you are closed overnight.

4. Annual fees: If you do not pay your annual fee, Councils can pursue them as civil debts but this is generally a last resort. Your licence could be suspended but it must be reinstated by the council if and when those outstanding annual fees are paid.

5. If you have issued Temporary Events Notices for events which are not going to go ahead, you can cancel them (via the Licensing Authority) to use for later in the year. You will unlikely get your £21 back however.

6. Festivals and large outdoor events: Consider what flexibility there is under your premises licence to move the date, and contact your suppliers and artists with this in mind. If your licence is time-limited you may need to amend the dates by way of an application, or you may have a ‘window’ of say May-September during which your event can take place. Always bear in mind other conditions too, for example notice requirements.

7. Pragmatism: We live in unprecedented times – authorities and even local residents may take a wholly different view now to any new proposal than they might have done previously – but you won’t know without asking them.

8. Training: To make use of any downtime for staff there are lots of online training packages available and you can deliver training via Skype or Microsoft Teams. You should also check your premises licence for any training requirements as you may be required to carry out training at particular intervals.

9. The BBPA and UK Hospitality have both produced some helpful guidance on Coronavirus – https://beerandpub.com/briefings/bbpa-guidance-for-covid-19-2/ and https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/coronavirus

10. CPL has produced a free online Coronavirus training kit in the article: https://www.cpllearning.com/online-courses/coronavirus-taking-proactive-action/

Andy Grimsey, Partner at Poppleston Allen Solicitors, said: “This is the first of our regular coronavirus-related briefings. They will be short and to the point. Licensing is perhaps not at the forefront of your minds at the moment but there are actions you may be able to take under your licence to lessen any commercial damage and to help your communities.”

If you would like to discuss any the above points or any issues with your licence, please contact us on: (0115) 953 8500

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