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Coronavirus: On-trade operators urged to maintain licensing compliance

Published:  19 March, 2020

Law firm John Gaunt & Partners has urged on-trade operators not to ignore licensing compliances following the government’s coronavirus-led policy to allow pubs and restaurants to operate in the home delivery market. 

The specialist licensing law business warned that operators must be prepared to act should the designated premises supervisor (DPS) have to self-isolate or find themselves hospitalised.

In addition, it advised those venues seeking to offer take away and delivery services to check their licence as they may need Temporary Event Notices (TEN), it said.

“We understand that operators will have pressing concerns about serious loss of business right now, but we’d urge them not to lose sight of the fact that they must remain compliant with licensing legislation,” said partner Michelle Hazlewood. 

Supply of alcohol in England and Wales is conditional upon there being a DPS in respect of the premises licence, while supply of alcohol under the premises licence must be made or authorised by a personal licence holder. 

“The DPS is the key person in relation to the premises, and will usually be responsible for day-to-day management of them. It’s long been accepted that the DPS need not be present during trading hours, so we’d suggest that no premises licence variation is needed if; the DPS self-isolates for seven days, or self-isolates or is absent due to coronavirus for up to 14 days or, they’re away for longer than 14 days, but remain in touch with the premises,” said Hazelwood.

“However, over an extended period, the DPS’ ability to understand the day-to-day operation of the premises will weaken, and there’ll be cut-off point where we’d advise varying the licence to appoint a new DPS, thus upholding the principles of the Licensing Act.”

In the case of hospitalisation, serious consideration should be given to appointing a new DPS, or risk putting the premises in breach of the mandatory conditions, she added.