The government has U-turned on guidance for the second lockdown which previously suggested a ban on restaurants and pubs serving takeaway alcohol.
Official guidelines published over the week had indicated that alcoholic drinks would not be able to be sold to customers to take home during the national lockdown in England that starts on Thursday.
However, the new rules now state customers can pre-order their drink online, or by phone or post, which can then be collected – as long as they do not enter a premises.
The proposed regulations, that were published on Tuesday evening, say that a restricted business can only sell alcohol for off-premises consumption by “making deliveries in response to orders received” through a website or other on-line communication, by telephone, including text message, or by post.
The regulations also explain that pre-ordered drinks can be sold to, and collected by, a customer “provided the purchaser does not enter inside the premises to do so”.
A customer can also collect pre-orders in a vehicle as long as it is passed over “without the purchaser or any other person leaving the vehicle”.
English pubs and restaurants have welcomed the latest government U-turn, after previous warning the ban would result in “thousands of gallons of beer (being) poured down drains”.
Nik Antona, chairman of the the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “I am delighted that the government has listened to the concerns of thousands of Camra members, concerned pub-goers, and beer lovers who have emailed their MPs in the last 48 hours urging the government to allow pubs and breweries to sell alcohol as takeaway during the second lockdown.
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“This is a vital lifeline for local pubs and breweries across England over the coming four weeks, giving them a lifeline of income and allowing people to support local businesses.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, added: “Takeaway alcohol from pubs if it is pre-ordered and customers don’t enter the premises is movement, but still not anywhere near enough.
“Supermarkets and off-licences can still sell alcohol so this is grossly unfair on pubs with off-licences.
“It remains the case that to help pubs and brewers survive, and to stop up to 7.5 million pints from being wasted, the government needs to give pubs the same ability to sell off-licence alcohol as it did in the first lockdown.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “We recognise that these are extremely challenging circumstances for pubs and the hospitality industry.
“Public health and safety remains our number one priority and that is why pubs and other hospitality venues cannot serve alcohol on site to take away to prevent people from gathering outside their premises.
“However, they can sell alcohol as part of delivery services, including through click and collect, over the telephone and by other remote methods of ordering for collection, provided customers do not congregate as groups once they have picked up their order.”
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