The UK government has extended the period during which restaurants and pubs can provide takeaway services without having to go through a planning application process, providing them with a much-needed boost as they deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick relaxed rules in March this year so businesses could offer a takeaway service during the COVID-19 crisis. This was due to end in March next year, but will now be extended by another year.
The measure will help give businesses “the confidence they need to continue to serve customers and retain their staff,” the government said in a statement.
In July, the government made it easier for businesses and communities to host markets and stalls. Jenrick has also extended this relaxation for the whole of next year.
The government will consider making both these reforms permanent.
Its statement said these announcements build on the extra support it is providing to help businesses and protect jobs. This includes an extension of the furlough scheme until the end of March, grants of up to £3,000 ($3,977) for premises that must close, and £1.1bn for councils to enable them to support businesses in their area.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said the ability to provide takeaway services “was a valuable lifeline for many hospitality venues, not just during the lockdown but in the days of reduced and restricted trade, too.”
Restaurants and pubs have suffered due to the pandemic. Earlier this week it was reported that almost a third of licensed premises including pubs and bars were forced to shut their doors last month amid the pandemic.
The research showed many of October’s closures were triggered by the government’s three-tier system of restrictions.
Sales in October were significantly lower than the previous months due to a number of government restrictions, the company said, including changes in tie categories across the country, a 10pm curfew, a requirement to order all food and drink at tables and the mandatory use of face masks when moving around inside pubs.
Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin hit out at the changing national and local lockdown regulations.
He said: “For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing. The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle.
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