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We are now a couple of weeks into ‘lockdown living’, and it is fair to say that it has had a significant impact on our lives one way or another.

With Easter being this weekend and the weather forecast looking fairly promising, operators may be thinking “what would be the harm in opening their bar or pub to the public as normal for a couple of hours for society to return to some form of normality”. The simple answer is not to do it.

We are aware that various police forces and trading standards officers across the country are carrying out patrols to check whether licensed premises are open and trading as normal. Should the authorities find any licensed premises not complying, they have the power to review the licence, whether that be the normal route or a summary review or, the local authority or police can apply for a closure notice and subsequent closure order on the basis that the use of the premises is likely to result in nuisance to the public. The serious risk of COVID-19 outbreak is likely to be adjudged as a nuisance. All of these powers available to the authorities may end up with your premises licence being revoked or suspended (for up to three months).

The above guidance is not to shock anyone, but to provide a brief overview of what enforcement powers the authorities have should they find any premises open and trading to the public as normal during these times. However, nothing is preventing you from selling food and alcohol, subject to off-sales being permitted on your premises licence and any licensing conditions, as part of a takeaway or delivery service.

Customers can continue to enter your premises to access takeaway services, subject to social distancing measures, but you should encourage taking orders online or by telephone if possible, and not to provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on whilst waiting for their takeaway. If you are providing a delivery service, then your staff members carrying out the delivery should be treating it as a normal sale of alcohol from behind the bar and asking for ID if necessary.

Finally, from speaking with several police forces in the last couple of weeks, they have mentioned that with the current circumstances, residential crime is down, but commercial crime has increased. It is therefore imperative that you reduce the risk of your premises suffering a break-in while unattended. With this in mind, we ask you to read the following crime prevention advice from the Croydon Met Police.

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