The hospitality sector is facing the challenge of reopening after lockdown with social distancing measures to be complied with.  Many operators are hoping to increase the use of outdoor space  with pizza ovens and other hot and cold food being served throughout, potentially extended opening hours, to maximise income.  As you prepare for the operational challenges ahead and navigate the new normal, don’t overlook your Premises Licence:

Here we set out our Top Tips for Getting your House in Order:

Hours of Trading

Will you want to open earlier (perhaps for breakfast) or indeed later? Look closely at the licence you have as a variation application will be needed to extend your trading hours.

Late Night Refreshment

You may have a pizza oven in an external area or be contemplating installing one as you encourage customers to sit and eat outside.  If you want to sell hot food and drink after 11pm you may need to vary your licence to add Late Night Refreshment outdoors.

Current Approved Plans

If you are going to change your internal layout to accommodate social distancing measures – again a minor variation may be necessary to change the current approved plan dependent on the measures you’re taking.

Change of DPS

You will have no doubt furloughed staff during the lockdown but it may be the case that you have sadly had to let staff go and your DPS is no longer with the business. If you are going to need to appoint a new DPS, submit that application now.

Sunday Trading

There has also been speculation this weekend that the Government is considering relaxing Sunday trading laws and the accompanying planning and licensing restrictions. If this goes ahead and our streets and shopping centres are open for longer on Sunday this may be an opportunity to increase your weekend trade. Whilst Sunday trading restrictions won’t apply to your sites limited licensing hours may be in place. So now would be the time to review your licence and see whether any extension is needed to your licence to allow you to trade.

Annual Licence Fee

Is the licence fee paid fully up to date? You may have decided not to pay the annual fee as the premises were closed and not trading. If the fee is outstanding and a suspension notice has  been served, you will need to ensure that the payment is made and the notice is lifted to allow you to re-open.

Outdoor seating

Now is the time to review your current approved plan so that you know the extent of your licensed area. If you intend to utilise a car park, beer garden or other outside space, if it isn’t licensed you will need to vary your licence if you want to set up a bar out there. The campaign for UK’s Grand Summer café  is  to allow local authorities to permit operators to use open spaces outside their properties to serve food and drink. This would effectively amount to a blanket permission without the need for either planning or licensing consent. However this has not yet been approved by the Government and so our advice would be to confirm your licensing position.

For further information on licensing issues contact Lisa Gilligan

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.