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Pubs will still be allowed to serve takeaway pints as Rishi Sunak steps in to halt ban
13 August 2023, 07:24
A ban on takeaway pints planned by the government for next month has been reversed by Rishi Sunak.
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Under government proposals, pub customers would only be able to drink on-site from September 30, as the government planned to end pandemic measures allowing takeaway pints.
But the Prime Minister, a teetotaller, has stepped in to block the bureaucratic ban in a bid to shore up business for pubs, many of whom are struggling, the Sun reported.
"Takeaway pints and al fresco drinks are not just a much-enjoyed addition to pub menus but also a welcome source of income for businesses recovering from the impacts of the pandemic," a Downing Street insider said.
“The PM will always back British pubs. He’s listened to the industry and heard them loud and clear — now is not the time to call last orders on takeaway pints and the boost to business that they bring."
Introduced in 2020 to help struggling pubs stay afloat during lockdowns, takeaway alcohol sales were meant to be a temporary lifeline. But many pubs and punters grew fond of the takeaway pint, seeing it as an extra revenue stream and convenient option.
Despite this popularity, after a consultation which drew just 174 responses, the government has decided to let the takeaway alcohol rules expire. Industry groups call the move disappointing and overly bureaucratic.
The British Beer and Pub Association had criticised the initial decision for forcing pubs to go through "lengthy application and approval processes" just to continue selling takeaway drinks.
Chief executive Emma McClarkin said the government needed to support pubs by allowing innovation, not burdening them with more red tape.
Under the pandemic rules, pubs with on-site alcohol licences could automatically offer takeaway alcohol too.
But if the ban had gone through, they would have had to formally apply for off-site sales permission through their local council.
Government planning documents estimate between 8,500 and 12,800 pubs could opt to continue takeaway alcohol sales if permitted. However, the Home Office says there is a lack of "robust" data on actual demand.
In explaining the initial decision to let the takeaway alcohol rules expire, the Home Office said it consulted local councils, neighbourhood groups, and drinks retailers. The majority of respondents apparently favoured reverting back to pre-pandemic licensing conditions.
The Home Office defended the move as striking the right balance between business interests and local concerns. Some neighbourhood groups apparently complained about the takeaway pint rules.
But hospitality industry leaders argued that the change would have added unnecessary regulation and questioned the government's commitment to cutting red tape.
Overall, the return to pre-pandemic alcohol licensing aims for normalisation after crisis measures.
But pubs and punters seem to feel the takeaway pint had become a convenient norm itself.