The Government call for all pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars to close from tonight to slow the spread of the coronavirus is another blow for the hospitality and leisure sector, already feeling the effects of social distancing.
The move follows the Government’s relaxation of planning rules to allows pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways; that change of use would normally have needed planning permission, but can now go ahead as long as each outlet tells their local authority of their plans. The relaxation of planning rules will last for a year.
That move, announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, aimed to enable people to support their local businesses while abiding by Government advice to avoid social venues. It applies to hot food and drinks, but current licensing laws will still apply to the serving of alcohol.
Heath Thomas, head of our Licensing and Regulatory Team, said: “The original Government advice to people to avoid pubs and restaurants left the sector in real difficulty; the announcement of takeaways will help some to keep their heads above water through these unprecedented times. But the rapid closure of so much of the sector will have a long-term impact right across the industry.”
The call for closure also applies to theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs, as well as spas, gyms and leisure centres. The situation will be reviewed monthly.