Calls for clarity over 'nonsensical' takeaway alcohol ban
Hospitality leaders are calling for clarity over the government's decision to ban the sale of takeaway alcohol from pubs and restaurants during the four-week national lockdown in England.
From 5 November all hospitality venues must close, but will still be able to offer takeaway food.
Businesses will be allowed to deliver alcohol but unlike the last national lockdown cannot sell sealed containers of alcoholic drinks to takeaway in person from their premises.
Trade bodies including UKHospitality, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are lobbying the government to reverse the rule, which is being considered by members of the Cabinet.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "The measures this time are more restrictive in some areas. Unlike the first lockdown, venues will not be permitted to sell takeaway alcohol. They will be permitted to deliver it, but customers will not be allowed to buy alcohol in person, even if it is for consumption off the premises.
"This dries up a vital revenue stream for many businesses, cuts links with local communities and makes survival all the more difficult. We really need the government to reverse this decision. Businesses have shown that they can make their premises safe and secure and they need to be given a fighting chance to stay afloat."
James Calder, chief executive of SIBA, called the ban "nonsensical".
He said: "As if a second national lockdown in England wasn't disastrous enough for pubs and independent breweries, government have gone further this time around and introduced an unjustified restriction banning pubs from selling takeaway beer, a service which was the only source of income for many businesses during the summer lockdown.
"This is baffling considering supermarkets will presumably still be allowed to sell packaged beer, whilst small breweries and pubs will not."
SIBA also wants the government to clarify that online sales from breweries can continue and whether bottle shops run on premises will be considered essential retail.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) also blasted the proposed ban on pubs and brewers selling takeaway beer during the lockdown in England and has written to the Cabinet Office to demand the removal of the unfair restriction.
CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: "Offering alcohol for takeaway was a lifeline for many pubs, and particularly breweries, during the first lockdown in England. It is a baffling and damaging decision to remove this option, particularly when other businesses such as supermarkets can continue to sell takeaway alcohol.
"Pubs and breweries were already reporting losses and the risk of closure before Christmas, and this will only add to the risk of permanent closures within the next few months. CAMRA and the entire pub and brewery industry are now urging the Government to reverse this bizarre decision and ensure the survival of our pubs and breweries."
The government's website states: "Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed."
The Prime Minister is due to address the House of Commons at 3.30pm this afternoon, before MPs vote on the lockdown rules on Wednesday.