Lockdown: pre-opening checklist for the hospitality industry
Following the government’s update on the 22nd February we now anxiously await the re-opening of the hospitality industry from the 12th April 2021. Specialist licensing solicitor, Melissa Toney, walks us through the pre-opening checklist for the hospitality industry.
How has the food, drink and hospitality industry changed?
From digital table ordering, take-away and delivery services to segregating areas and pre-ordering meals; the multiple lockdowns we have lived through over the past 12 months have resulted in a new hybrid of the food and drink industry.
The evolution of this post-pandemic creature should be embraced as some of the lessons learnt are likely to stay with us for some time; for example some customers will have missed being 3-feet deep at a bar, whilst others will have enjoyed the ease of table service. Therefore, the real question is how can businesses re-build their revenue and continue to engage customers?
How can hospitality businesses prepare for re-opening?
We don’t yet know the details of how lockdown will be lifted but there are several things business owners can do to ensure they are license-ready for when they reopen. The key is to safeguard the licence and that starts with an early review of the licence itself. A critical review of a licence will avoid any issues from enforcement officers and more importantly avoid any financial stress or tarnished reputation to your business.
You may have plans for restructuring your business or providing services to customers in a different way, and this could have an impact on your licence. Use these questions to find out the extent of the impact:
- Is the Designated Premises Supervisor named on the licence (the DPS) still working at the premises? If the DPS has left this needs to be addressed asap.
- Has there been a change to the premises licence holder or their registered address?
- Has the Premises Licence annual fee been paid? If not, payment will be required on reopening to prevent suspension notices (if applicable).
- Is the Summary Premises Licence and Notice on display? Is the full licence available for inspection?
- Is there an opportunity to amend the current licence – hours, conditions or layout/plan to encourage social distancing? Some new areas may not be licensed (i.e. has the bar area changed) so check the existing licence and plan.
- Have building works been undertaken during the closure? If so, licensing and planning consent is likely to be required and you will need to follow this up. What are their outcomes?
- Is your premises licence fit for purpose? – do you need extended hours at start or end of trading, do you need to modify conditions or the addition of off sales to maximise capacity?
- Are you adding food beyond 11pm – check if you have late night refreshment for trading beyond 11pm? Consider food registration issues and discussions to have with local food EHO.
- Does the licence cover other licensable activities or do you need to add other permissions – e.g. films?
Check for any licensing and planning restrictions which might need to be amended or submitted as a result of changes. This could relate to the use of areas, trading hours or operational conditions.
Pavement temporary licence
Remember that the pavement temporary licence (during the COVID pandemic) only lasts until 30th September 2021. So, you need to make sure you have provisions for beyond that date.
If you want to have outdoor bar/marquee/structure/fixed furniture outside on your land for more than 28 days you may need planning consent. Consider liaising with neighbours and residential associations; it is likely that the ambient noise levels will increase and residents may become sensitive to noise issues.
Gaming machine permit
If you have gaming machines, has the machine permit annual fee been paid? If it has not, then the permit will have lapsed and need to apply for a new one. If the premises licence has been transferred, you need to submit a new machine Notification (automatic entitlements to 2 gaming machines.)
The key is to be imaginative and creative now as many adjustments that you need to make will require consultation.
Specialist licensing solicitors
If you would like a review of your current licence and a discussion to assist you in maximising your business income on re-opening, our specialist licensing solicitors are on hand to help. Please call 0117 906 9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.