Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Licensing - Coronavirus

Please find advice and guidance for current licence holders and new applicants on changes to our Licensing service.

This guidance is for current licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a new licence. It explains the changes we are making to our Licensing services to help minimise the disruption caused to licence holders by COVID-19.

General guidelines on changes to the Licensing service

Everyone has a role to play in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Licence holders, including taxi and private hire car drivers, are reminded to follow Government advice including advice on lockdown and isolation if you have symptoms and on social distancing particularly if you or a family member are in the vulnerable groups. The local advice from the Public Health team echoes the national picture – we should all be trying to reduce social contact between people in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

All on sales premises that have not already closed should do so immediately in accordance with the advice issued on Friday 20 March by the UK and Scottish Governments. Police Scotland have already used emergency closure orders on some premises that have not been complying. Regulations are expected from the Scottish Government and this guidance will be updated when that happens.  Failure to comply could result in premises losing their licences permanently.

Following the announcement to lockdown from the UK Government on 23rd March 2020 for at least a period of 3 weeks, we strongly recommend that no one leaves their home unless it is for one of the government approved reasons: 

  • shopping for essentials including medical supplies
  • exercise
  • caring for a dependent or
  • essential Work

Face to face contact 

We are not currently offering face to face contact at any of our licensing offices so we would ask you not to come in person.

Submitting applications

We are asking customers to only submit essential applications or paperwork. Our preference, in the interests of keeping our staff safe, is that where  necessary, your application should be sent electronically to licapps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

Your application should be signed. Any necessary documentation should accompany the application. If you do not have scanned/electronic copies of documents you can provide photographs. Images of documents must be clear and legible.

Once we receive your application we will review it and contact you to arrange payment over the telephone. Please do not send us cash.

If you are unable to complete the forms online because you do not have access to a smartphone or computer, please call us on the numbers below and we will assist you to apply over the telephone. This is not something that we can usually offer, but in the circumstances we wish to be fair to all.

For Liquor applications please call:

For Civic applications please call:

Renewal reminders will be done as much by email and electronic means as we are restricted in terms of printing. Paper forms will not be sent out with reminders.

If you are applying for a taxi or private hire car drivers licence we will also contact you with specific instructions on providing your right to work documentation unless you have already provided us with this previously.

Please be aware that it may take some time to review and process your application. You should expect most applications to take the statutory timescale of 9-12 months to process. Please be understanding with our team who will be doing their utmost to be of assistance during these unprecedented times.

Please find electronic copies of our applications and granted licences

Committee and board meetings

All planned meetings of the Licensing Sub- Committee and the Aberdeenshire Licensing Board are still proceeding as planned, however the plan is to hold these meetings via Skype where possible. If you are scheduled to attend a future meeting we will be in touch with you directly to provide guidance as to how you can attend. 

Guidance for existing Civic Government licence holders

Please find more information and guidance of existing Civic Government license holders.

License due to expire

We appreciate that this a time where some may be anxious or worried. We are aiming to maintain a “business as usual” operation of our services as much as is possible in these difficult times. This may change but we await Government Guidance before we can make substantial change.

Please ensure that your renewal application is submitted to us before your current licence expires. Please use one of these options to renew your license

Street Traders

Before submitting any new application for a street trader’s licence please get in touch with environmental health. No inspections for Food Safety Certificate which is a requirement before a grant of a street trader’s licence is permitted legally will occur in the foreseeable future. This should not impact on those renewing their licences as they may still be able to trade however it will impact on new applicants. 

Guidance for taxi and private hire car or driver licence holders

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the guidance which has been issued by both the UK and Scottish Governments including through agencies such as DVSA, we have had to assess several operational matters including the testing of vehicles.
Although garages are classified as essential, their capacity at this time is severely limited as a result of self-isolation and social distancing of staff and after consideration of the requirement to reduce contact points to mitigate the spread of infection.

These measures are both in the interests of staff and of those presenting vehicles for testing. Therefore the garages will no longer open to test taxi or private hire vehicles from close of business on Friday 27th March and that all tests for the foreseeable future are cancelled.

This is unprecedented, and this action has not been taken lightly.  In order to deal with the lack of testing, the licensing authority have:

  • Published a notice proposing to vary all vehicle licences granted within the 12 month period prior to the 30th of March 2020 to the effect that they are extended for a further 6 months. This will mean that all licences granted in the last year will automatically become 18 month licences from the date of grant. This notice will come into effect from the 6th of April. No new grants will be made between the 30th March and the 6th April to ensure that all operators are treated equally. 
  • Determined to temporarily suspend the requirement of vehicle licence holders to present their vehicles for testing every six months with effect from the 30th March 2020. This will be in place for a period of one year at which point this decision will be reviewed by the Licensing Sub-Committee.

Please therefore do not attend for any appointment that you have with the garages from the 30th March.

Substitutions of vehicles will only be permitted where the currently licenced vehicle has been in an accident or is not roadworthy. Substitute vehicles must undergo a council test. Following guidance from DVSA, this will only be permitted where the vehicle proposed for substitution is either:

  • under 3 years old
  • has a current valid MOT
  • if the MOT was due before 30th March 2020 (in which case only the garage will do an MOT)

Licensing authority notice for taxis and private hire vehicles 

This notice is given by Aberdeenshire Council as licensing authority for taxis and private hire vehicles under the Civic Government (Scotland ) Act 1982 ( hereinafter referred to as the licensing authority). This notice is given to the holders of all taxi and private hire vehicle licences issued by the licensing authority and is given in accordance with paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 to the Act which deals with variation of licences under the Act.

The licensing authority will vary all taxi licences and private hire vehicle licences granted in the twelve months prior to 30th March 2020. The duration of the licence is extended for a period of 6 months from the date of expiry of the licence whatever that may be . This will be subject to the condition that all licence holders must ensure that their cars are safe and roadworthy and would pass a vehicle inspection if presented to the licensing authority.

Any taxi licence holder whose licence is going to be subject to this variation and who wishes to object to the variation may do so by emailing licapps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or by telephoning Peter Robertson, Senior Solicitor, Legal and Governance, 01467 530729 stating reasons why they object.

Guidance for liquor licence holders

Following the announcement of the UK and Scottish Governments, we strongly advise all premises to close in relation to on sales. This is in the interests of public safety. Be advised that Police Scotland may take action and impose emergency closure orders on premises who remain open. Regulations are expected from the Scottish Government and this guidance will be updated when that happens.

Where the premises sell food and are licensed for both on and off-sales of alcohol, the delivery of alcohol with food will also be permitted, subject to compliance with the appropriate provisions within the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Licensing Board's alcohol delivery conditions which can be found at Section E12 (pdf 1.5MB).

Following the announcement by the UK Government regarding a relaxation of planning rules, the Licensing Board is supportive of licensed premises which wish to provide a food take away and food delivery service. Should the business wish to continue providing this service in the long term, the Board will require a major variation to the premises licence however will permit deliveries in the interim.

Question: If I decide to close my pub because of the current coronavirus outbreak and advice from the Prime Minister to the public to avoid pubs or restaurants will the Licensing Board treat the licence as having ceased to have effect? 

Answer: No, the Board’s Policy document does however say that where premises are closed for more than three months then the licence will be deemed to have ceased to have effect. In the current circumstances however the Board will take a proportionate and pragmatic approach and only deem a licence to have ceased to have effect if premises which close because of the current situation remain closed after normal business resumes throughout the country.   

Personal licenses

Personal licence holders are required to undergo refresher training every five years and to provide a copy of their training certificate to the Licensing Board. View our guidance on personal licences

Unfortunately, the legislation in this area is clear and the Board has no discretion. The position is unchanged unless the Scottish Government publish regulations. We will update our guidance as and when we receive any update from the Scottish Government.

Please do not leave booking a course to the last minute. There are courses that you can do online if you are not able to get a physical course.  

Occasional licenses 

In light of current advice from both the UK and Scottish Government it might be that you have decided to cancel or postpone this event. If this is the case please get in touch with us via licapps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk stating if you intend to cancel or postpone. In the event of a postponement, it may not be possible to advise of a new date at this time, however we will place the application on hold for processing pending notification of a new date. In this case your original fee will stand.

It should also be emphasised however, that should your licence be processed, granted and you go ahead with an event whilst the UK and Scottish Government’s current advice is still in force, this will be treated as conduct inconsistent with the licensing objective of Protecting and Improving Public Health. This may (will) result in enforcement and follow up action being taken.

Question: I have submitted an application for an occasional licence which has not yet been granted. I wish to postpone it. Can I do this? 

Answer: Yes if you advise us immediately, we will allow you to amend the date of the event in the application to a later date. The application with the revised date on it will require to go through the consultation process in the normal manner. 

Question: I have already been granted  an occasional licence for an event taking place in the next three months. If I decide to cancel will I get my application fee back? 

Answer: No , the fee covers the cost of processing the application and as it has already gone through the process the fee cannot be refunded.  However if you reschedule your event, please let us know so that we can notify statutory partners of your change of plan.

Question: We are a voluntary body and have an occasional licence for an event later this month. If we decide not to proceed with the event will it still count as one of the 12 occasional licences to which we are entitled in any one 12 month period? 

Answer: If you notify us in advance of the event that it is not going ahead and that the licence will not be taking effect then it will not count towards one of your 12 licences

Question: Can I open my premises early for food outwith licensed hours?

Answer: Yes, subject to Government guidance on COVID-19. The guidance will continue to be updated.

Guidance for public entertainment licence holders

All guidance here is subject to Government advice on COVID-19. It is the responsibility of event organisers to pay heed to Government guidance on social distancing and we would encourage responsible decisions. We recommend that you read and take cognisance of the guidance provided by Health Protection Scotland, section 2.8 provides advice on events (pdf 728KB).

Rescheduled Events

If you have already lodged a Public Entertainment Licence application and wish to re-schedule your event to another date(s), please email licapps@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  preferably with a note of your application reference and the name of your event to let us know your plans.

If you do wish to have your event on another date you will not be charged by the Licensing Authority for the change of date.

Question: I have submitted an application for a new 3 year Public Entertainment Licence for an event taking place in the spring/summer. Can I postpone this and change the date to later in the year or next year? 

Answer: Yes. We will allow you to roll this forward so that it covers 2021, 2022 and 2023 if you cancel this year’s event.   

It is not legally possible for the Council to extend the period of a public entertainment licence that has already been granted, so whilst we have discretion to change dates within the 3 year licence period, we cannot extend those dates.  

Further guidance  

We will continue to update this guidance as necessary. If you have an urgent specific query you can contact us by email. Due to the anticipated volume of enquiries please be aware that it may take some time to respond.

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