MPs back campaign to allow pubs to serve takeaway alcohol

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Can pubs serve takeaway alcohol?

Related tags: Beer, The Countryside Alliance, Takeaway, Pub & bar

MPs have put their weight behind a campaign calling for the takeaway alcohol ban currently in place at English pubs to be lifted ahead of beer gardens reopening next month.

MPs Greg Smith and Robert Syms have joined The Countryside Alliance’s #UnlockInn campaign, which is putting pressure on the Government to allow takeaway pints ahead of outdoor meetings between different households from 29 March.

As it stands, pubs cannot sell alcohol to takeaway or to click-and-collect under lockdown law until at least 12 April.

Pub operators have said this is unfair as individuals can freely buy alcohol from supermarkets.

Smith and Syms argue that allowing pubs to resume takeaway alcohol sales would “kick start the hospitality comeback early.”

A survey from the Countryside Alliance found 47% of publicans operating a takeaway food service said the inability to sell take away alcoholic beverages had a negative impact on their sales.

 “Understandably people are going to be meeting with friends and loved ones and it will be a cause for celebration. Big supermarkets have been able to trade over lockdown, but pubs have had to shut, says Smith. 

“To kick start the hospitality comeback early, pubs should be able to sell takeaway alcohol to anyone planning for picnics. This would be fair and create an equal playing field”.

Some also believe the ban has discriminated against  wet-led operators because they have been unable to generate income amid England’s third national lockdown as they have in prior lockdowns.

Neil Way, steward of Cheltenham Motor Club, told BigHospitality's sister publication Morning Advertiser that selling beer to takeaway in sealed containers in previous lockdowns had been “vital”.

He explained: “It was highly successful for us providing vital income & our customers enjoyed draught real ale and cider as they were sick of cans and bottles. It was a vital support for cask breweries and third party suppliers. It kept me in touch with our locals too.

"I fail to see why cafés and coffee shops are allowed to sell takeaway beverages and we are not. I also have to ask why are the supermarkets allowed to sell alcohol yet pubs and social clubs are not?”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said pubs should not repurpose as shops in order to be able to sell alcohol and cited public health concerns but the Morning Advertiser understands that local authorities in some areas have been lenient about repurposing, resulting in a number of pubs selling takeaway alcohol.

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Pub & Bar

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