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UK pubs and breweries push to be allowed takeaway sales | Business


Breweries and pubs are lobbying the government for blanket permission to launch takeaway alcohol services, after off-licences were designated “essential businesses” permitted to stay open during the coronavirus lockdown.

Most brewery taprooms – and some pubs – can only sell drinks on the premises because they do not have an “off” licence allowing them to serve customers who want to drink elsewhere.

If the government were to grant them temporary permission to do so, all pubs, bars and breweries could behave like off-licences, either delivering drinks or allowing customers to pick them up.

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But a source familiar with the effort said Kit Malthouse, the Home Office minister responsible for alcohol licensing, had so far refused requests. The Guardian has approached the Home Office for comment.

The food ordering service Deliveroo said it would be keen to help pubs and brewery taprooms sell to people stuck at home if they won permission to do so.

“Things are changing for everyone and we’re a very adaptable business,” said a spokesperson. “If there were pubs that could work with us, we’d be keen to support them from a delivery perspective.”

The JD Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin, who has been criticised for downplaying the risk of coronavirus spreading in pubs, said he would welcome drinks being taken off premises.

“It sounds like a good idea to me,” said Martin, who has 870 pubs, many of which already have an off-premises licence. “It won’t be a panacea, given ferocious competition from supermarkets, but it may well help publicans and their customers in many small towns and villages.”

Trade bodies including the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) have asked the government to consider the proposal.

The SIBA chief executive, James Calder, said breweries that did not have a licence to sell direct to customers could be given the right to do so, while brewery taprooms could have their on-premises licences relaxed to allow takeaway and delivery.

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“If we could get government to open that up, breweries could sell bottles and cans direct to consumers and it would help at lot of pubs too,” he said.

The addition of off-licences to the list of essential businesses, announced on Wednesday morning, was hailed as welcome news for many people stuck at home, with pubs and restaurants shut down and supermarkets running low on supplies of beer and wine.

Off-licences will join a list of businesses considered essential to keep the nation running, including supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations.



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