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Bury St Edmunds pub owners welcome government u-turn over takeaway alcohol during lockdown

Pub owners in Bury St Edmunds have broadly welcomed a government u-turn on businesses selling takeaway alcohol during the second national lockdown.

Concerns were raised after guidelines published over the weekend initially indicated a ban on restaurants and pubs serving alcohol takeaways.

However, new rules issued yesterday stated customers must pre-order their drink online, or by phone or post, which can be collected as long as they do not enter a premises.

Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton
Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton

Heather Warren, owner of Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds, said: "It's excellent news. It will definitely help us during lockdown and our suppliers who have been supporting us.

"It will keep them in business."

She said it will allow them to sell alcohol with their food takeaways this Sunday.

Gusto Pronto owners Roxane and David Marjoram. Picture by Mecha Morton
Gusto Pronto owners Roxane and David Marjoram. Picture by Mecha Morton

Roxane Marjoram, co-owner of Gusto Pronto which includes The One Bull and The Beerhouse in Bury St Edmunds, The Cadogan in Ingham, The Crown in Hartest and The Fox in Bulmer Tye near Sudbury , said: "It's good news in general for the trade in that there's now take-out beer permitted.

"However, it does have to be pre-ordered and customers aren't allowed to come inside so the pubs going to be doing that are going to have to put systems in place to deal with that which wasn't the case first time around.

"It's very short notice for the trade to get its head around."

She said they hope to be able to offer a brewery pop-up service and they will be taking their wine shop online with free local delivery and a next day national delivery service.

The proposed regulations say that a restricted business can only sell alcohol for off-premises consumption by 'making deliveries in response to orders received' through a website or other on-line communication, by telephone, including text message, or by post.

The regulations also explain that pre-ordered drinks can be sold to, and collected by, a customer 'provided the purchaser does not enter inside the premises to do so'.

A customer can also collect pre-orders in a vehicle as long as it is passed over 'without the purchaser or any other person leaving the vehicle'.

Elsewhere in the regulations, breweries are listed as being included among 'off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol' permitted to stay open during lockdown.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 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 take away 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."

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