Lockdown Stage 2 – What does it mean for the hospitality sector?

With just two weeks to go until we reach Stage 2 of the Government’s provisional roadmap, many businesses will be busy preparing to reopen and capitalise as soon as they are able.

Non-essential shops, personal care premises – such as barbers, hairdressers, and nail salons – and public buildings including libraries and museums can reopen. The hospitality sector will also be able to reopen but with the rules still only allowing for outdoor options, many venues will need to utilise outdoor space to enable the business to get back on track.

What are the proposed rules for the hospitality sector?

  • 12 April: Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors – including alcohol. Customers can meet in a group of up to six people from different households or a larger group providing they are all from a maximum of two households. There is no current plans to bring back the ‘substantial meal’ requirement and there will be no curfew.
  • 17 May: Hospitality venues can seat customers indoors; parties can be made up of a maximum of six people or two households of any size. Groups seated outside must be smaller than 30 people.
  • 21 June – All restrictions will be lifted, and nightclubs will be allowed to re-open.

What about venues without outdoor space?

The Government is moving to help pubs, restaurant and cafes that do not have gardens or terraces open in April, by making it easier for them to create makeshift outdoor spaces in the street. If the venue owns the outdoor area or it was conveyed to them under their lease, then it needs to obtain what is known as a pavement licence – a licence granted by local authority, allowing the licence-holder to place removeable furniture over certain roads and highways next to the premises.  Areas like car parks can be used as outdoor dining spaces and pubs are permitted to erect marquees for up to two months without seeking planning permission.

The Government introduced a streamlined and cheaper application process in July last year, to allow businesses to open with social distancing measures still in place. Application fees for a licence are capped at £100, and should not take more than 10 working days to approve.

If you are looking to secure a licence, renew an existing licence or you are unsure as to what your existing licence allows and does not allow – it is important to seek legal advice.

For more information contact our Commercial Property department on 01603 677077 or email our Head of Department, Protima Sikdar-Wood, on psw@spiresolicitors.co.uk