Last orders for takeaway pints as huge change to pub laws will see the practice banned

7 August 2023, 06:42 | Updated: 7 August 2023, 12:42

UKHospitality, an industry group, said the "practical" Covid-era relaxations had helped some businesses to boost s
UKHospitality, an industry group, said the "practical" Covid-era relaxations had helped some businesses to boost s. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Pubgoers who enjoy takeaway pints are in for disappointment, as the government plans to ban the practice starting next month.

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Customers will soon only be able to drink on-site, as the government plans to end pandemic measures allowing takeaway pints starting 30 September.

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.

Read more: Record number of pubs forced to call last orders as 'perfect storm' caused by soaring costs and weak demand hits

Read more: Drivers may be entitled to millions in refunds from parking fines after using CCTV evidence for tickets ruled ‘illegal’

The British Beer and Pub Association criticised the 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 needs to support pubs by allowing innovation, not burdening them with more red tape.

The government has decided to call time on Covid-era licensing rules that made it easier for pubs in England and Wales to sell takeaway drinks.
The government has decided to call time on Covid-era licensing rules that made it easier for pubs in England and Wales to sell takeaway drinks. Picture: Alamy

Under the pandemic rules, pubs with on-site alcohol licences could automatically offer takeaway alcohol too.

But after 30 September, they'll have 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 decision to let the takeaway alcohol rules expire, the Home Office said it consulted local councils, neighborhood groups, and drinks retailers. The majority of respondents apparently favoured reverting back to pre-pandemic licensing conditions.T

he Home Office defends 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 argue the change just adds unnecessary regulation and questions 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 has become a convenient norm itself.

Time will tell if the tightening of rules crimps pub revenues and pushes drinkers back on-site.

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