PUBS will be allowed to sell takeaway alcohol in a relaxation of planned lockdown rules in England.
Pre-ordered alcohol can be collected by customers as long as they do not enter the premises, legislation says.
They must order their drink via a website, phone or text message. Deliveries are also allowed.
Pub bosses hailed it as a small victory but said the rules should allow venues to sell drink in the same way as an off-licence.
Plans published at the weekend suggested that while restaurants could sell takeaway food, takeaway alcohol was to be banned.
“Takeaway alcohol from pubs if it is pre-ordered and customers don’t enter the premises is movement, but still not anywhere near enough,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.
“Supermarkets and off-licences can still sell alcohol, so this is grossly unfair on pubs with off-licences. It remains the case that to help pubs and brewers survive, and to stop up to 7.5 million pints from being wasted, the government needs to give pubs the same ability to sell off-licence alcohol as it did in the first lockdown.”
In the last lockdown, pubs in England had been allowed to sell takeaway pints and food, and were concerned that closure for a month would mean pouring millions of pints of ale down the drain as open kegs would go off.
“It is a welcome and helpful clarification that pubs and restaurants will be permitted to continue with off-licence sales of alcohol through delivery, as well as click and collect for pre-ordered sales,” said Kate Nichols of lobby group UK Hospitality.
“This was a lifeline to many businesses in the first lockdown and it is good to see common sense prevail this time too – avoiding waste and providing a valuable community service – although we can see no reason why a pub could not operate as a retail outlet for pre-packaged food and drink as many did last time.”
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise that these are extremely challenging circumstances for pubs and the hospitality industry. Public health and safety remains our number one priority and that is why pubs and other hospitality venues cannot serve alcohol on site to takeaway to prevent people from gathering outside their premises.
“However, they can sell alcohol as part of delivery services, including through click and collect, over the telephone and by other remote methods of ordering for collection, provided customers do not congregate as groups once they have picked up their order.”