The government has announced that restaurants and pubs in England will be granted automatic permission to provide takeaway services until March 2022.
The relaxing of the rules which allowed businesses to provide takeaways without going through a formal application process was due to end on 23 March next year.
However, communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed yesterday (11 November) that this period would be extended. Jenrick also noted that the government would consider making this reform permanent.
Hospitality outlets were first informed of the rule change in March this year during the first national lockdown. The rule relaxation also allows outlets to easily transition from a takeaway and/or delivery operation to serving dine-in customers as many will on 3 December.
Owners of such businesses must inform their local planning authority about a change in the nature of their operation.
The government has also simplified the process which allows businesses and communities to host markets. As with the takeaway permission, this freedom has been extended to cover the whole of 2021, and the government will decide whether to make it permanent. Alfresco dining regulations are also under review.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade group UKHospitality, said that takeaway services had provided a “valuable lifeline” for many businesses in the sector.
“The extension will undoubtedly help many,” she said. “For pubs, restaurants and cafés to operate as takeaways gives them a previously untapped revenue stream and a much better chance to survive what will be a tough winter.”
However she said the government needs to do more to help the sector beyond the extension of both the furlough scheme and takeaway services.
“Extension of the furlough scheme will provide some protection but scrapping the Job Retention Bonus Scheme is a major blow at a time when things could not be tighter,” she said. “Furlough will still mean that employers must pick up the cost of National Insurance Contributions (NICs), while receiving no revenue. Government support should recognise that hospitality is being asked to operate under the toughest restrictions of any sector and being given the highest mountain to climb in order to survive – we need a new approach from 3 December.”
England’s national lockdown will last from 5 November until 2 December, with hospitality sites required to close for dine-in customers. Food and soft drinks can be offered for takeaway and delivery, while alcohol can be offered via a click and collect or delivery service.