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Licensed premises, 'off sales' and takeaway

23rd June 2020 @ 7:07am – by Webteam
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Licensed premises, 'off sales' and takeaway

Frequently asked questions and guidance for licensed premises regarding the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises and social distancing measures

The following information has been produced to assist licensed premises as the pandemic restrictions continue.
In Cheshire West and Chester many licensed premises, including restaurants and pubs, have started to offer a takeaway or delivery service while restrictions prohibit them from fully opening.

Can all premises that are licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises also sell alcohol for consumption off the premises – known as 'off sales'?
To be able to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises your premises licence must specifically authorise 'off sales'. When 'off sales' are included in a premises licence there may be a condition that restricts how 'off sales' are made.
Each licence will be different.

A full variation of the premises licence must be applied for and granted before 'off sales' can be permitted if this facility is not already permitted on a premises licence.

Contravention of any condition attached to a premises licence is an offence and can result in large fines and/or imprisonment. The business, premises licence holder and others can be held accountable for breaches of the legislation.

What is meant by 'off sales'?
This is where the sale of the alcohol is not intended for consumption in any area under the control of the premises.
There is nearly always a requirement for the alcohol to be supplied in a sealed or closed container.
Premises cannot open a container for a customer or provide any facilities such as tables and chairs or encourage the consumption of the alcohol in a public area.

During the COVID-19 pandemic this also applies to any outside area included in the licensed area (marked red on the plan of the premises).
The sale of any draft alcohol must still be in the prescribed volume/measures (pint or ½ pint).

Is drinking in the street and public spaces allowed?
All streets and public areas in the Borough are designated public places under a Public Space Protection Order.
This Order places restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in a public place and targets anti-social behaviour.
The Order is breached when individuals fail to comply with a direction to surrender their alcohol to a police officer or designated enforcement officer.

Cheshire Police and the Council as Licensing Authority expect all premises (where appropriate) to remind their customers of the restrictions on public drinking, and in particular, those premises offering 'off sales' near popular attractions/open spaces during good weather.

What controls exist under the Licensing Act 2003 for 'off sales"'
There are four licensing objectives:
-the prevention of crime and disorder
-public safety
- the prevention of public nuisance
- the protection of children from harm

Where there is evidence that premises are not meeting these objectives or there are other issues linked to the premises that impact on the licensing objectives, a range of actions can be taken.
The most common of these is a request a review the premises licence by a responsible authority such as the Police or by any other person such as a resident or business.
This applies to all licensable activities including 'off sales'.
The possible outcome of a review is to:
-decide that no action is necessary
-issue an informal warning and/or recommend improvements within a particular time
-modify the conditions of the licence such as reduce the opening hours of the premises or require door supervisors and/or CCTV
-exclude a licensable activity from the scope of the licence
-remove the designated premises supervisor
-suspend the licence for a period not exceeding three months
-revoke the licence.

Details on how to call a review of a premises licence can be found at:

COVID-19 requirements/restrictions
As there are more discussions about premises partially opening and the possible easing of restrictions, this can sometimes be confusing.
The Council is advising all premises to ensure they are following the correct advice and not to make assumptions.
The Government's main advice to business can be found at:

Additional advice can often be found through professional associations such as Pub Watch.
Before making any decisions, businesses are advised to seek their own independent legal advice.

Social distancing and hygiene measures
It is the responsibility of both businesses and customers alike to maintain social distancing and follow the advice from the government to minimise the risks of spreading the virus.

Businesses can encourage social distancing by providing signage or two metre markings and by promoting contactless payments.
Strict hygiene measures are also required including the provision of hand sanitisers and the cleaning of surfaces that are regularly used or touched by staff and customers.
Advice on staying safe can be found at:

Risk assessments
During the current pandemic, before businesses start to offer takeaway services, they must undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment and communicate the outcome of the assessment to all staff.
The assessment will help them to run their business safely and help to identify any additional control measures required such as the provision of PPE.

Further guidance can be found on COVID-19 RAs on the HSE website at:

This information is not intended to be definitive; it is intended to be offer basic advice to businesses.
It will not cover all situations and scenarios or replace independent legal advice. It is likely to change without notice as guidance from the Government and legislation/interpretation of legislation changes.

Our approach to enforcement
Local Authorities and the Health & Safety Executive are responsible for making sure that the Government's guidelines are followed.
We expect that most businesses, shops and retailers will follow these guidelines to ensure that their premises are a safe environment.
Where they do not, our approach will be proportionate and based on the escalating principles of: Engage ' Educate ' Encourage ' Enforce.

The Council Health & Safety Executive and Cheshire Police will work together to ensure social distancing measures are maintained in businesses and public spaces.
Cheshire Police will continue to patrol high streets and local centres to provide reassurance to businesses and the public.

Contact for businesses:
The service can be contacted by email:

For further information, contact: Peter Willett
Date: 11 June 2020

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