Pub takeaway drinks rules extended to 2025

The government's extension of the existing Covid-era rules is aimed at supporting the struggling hospitality industry.

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Pubs in England and Wales can continue to sell takeaway drinks after the government extended Covid-era rules, giving a lifeline for bars and pubs trying to turn a profit.

Under pandemic laws brought in in July 2020, pubs were permitted to serve customers through hatches whilst they were forced to close – it meant pubs without an off-premises licence could sell takeaway alcohol without having to apply to their local council for permission.

Pubs were also allowed to sell alcohol on the street within the area covered by any pavement licence they may have. The rules allowed pubs – which were some of the first establishments to be closed during lockdowns – to continue trading, providing the industry with a much-needed financial boost during the Covid years.

These rules were previously extended on a temporary basis and were due to expire on September 30 – but the latest changes push back that date to March 2025.

Welcome news for suffering sector

“We welcome this news as after such a difficult couple of years, any chance to make additional sales is welcome,” Hubert Beatson-Hird, owner and director of Lunar Pub Co. told Startups.

“Takeaway beer is something we offer at our latest gastropub opening, The Apollo Arms in Clapham, which is great as there are several large, communal green spaces nearby such as Clapham Common that often plays host to festivals and day events.

“We know that some people will want to enjoy a drink on the common ahead of heading into these events, and with this we’re able to serve guests takeaway drinks in Vegware cups to enjoy in the green spaces which will hopefully bring in some great sales and local business for us.”

Government U-turn on takeaway tipples

The extension of the rules will be a surprise to many after it was widely reported just a week ago that pub takeaway drinks sales were to come to an end.

Prior to the extension, the BBC reported that the Home Office had said that it had sought opinions from councils, residents’ groups and drinks retailers on pub takeaway drinks rules – and that the majority were in favour of returning to the pre-pandemic rules.

Boost after Alcohol Duty blow

The extra chance to boost sales will be welcomed by many pubs in England and Wales just weeks Alcohol Duty changes were enforced that could have a devastating impact on small businesses already struggling to make ends meet.

From this month, producers now pay an estimated 10.1% more tax on packaged beer. According to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), that means tax will now make up around 30% of the cost of a 500ml bottle.

Commenting on the Alcohol Duty changes, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I want to support the drinks and hospitality industries that are helping to grow the economy, and the consumers who enjoy the end result.”

It’s likely the government hopes the latest decision to extend pub drink takeaway rules will appease critics of its policies to support the hospitality sector to date.

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Kirstie Pickering - business journalist

Kirstie is a freelance journalist writing in the tech, startup and business spaces for publications including Sifted, TNW, UKTN, The Business Magazine and Maddyness UK. She also works closely with agencies such as CEW Communications to develop content for their startup and scaleup clients.

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