Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Guidance for liquor licence holders - Coronavirus

This guidance is for liquor licence holders. It explains the changes we are making to our liquor licenses during the COVID-19 outbreak:

If you are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can have this information translated for you via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the online British Sign Language interpreting service.

Premises Licenses

An announcement was made on 7th October imposing restrictions on hospitality businesses from 6pm on Friday 9th October that will last until Sunday the 25th October 2020. View the full speech made by the First Minister.

Further guidance is awaited from the Scottish Government however in brief:-

  • All hospitality premises (pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, members clubs) can operate indoors from 6am until 6pm for food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • All hospitality premises can operate outdoors until 10pm for food, non-alcoholic drinks and alcoholic drinks
  • Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm for residents only and without alcohol, the consumption of food and non-alcoholic drinks in public areas must cease by 10pm as per the current measures
  • Any funerals or weddings which have been booked to take place during this period are permitted to go ahead under current measures

All of the above must comply with current physical distancing measures including up to 6 people from a maximum of 2 different households meeting at any one time. Physical distancing between households must remain in place at all times.

Where you intend to utilise any outdoor structures such as umbrellas, gazebos, the Scottish Government have regulated as follows:-

“a place is indoors if it would be considered to be wholly or substantially enclosed for the purposes of section 4(2) of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005(2) under the Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006(3).”

Effectively this means that you need to consider if any structure you intend to use fits with the following:

“premises shall be taken to be “substantially enclosed” if–

(i)the opening in the premises has an area; or
(ii)if there is more than one, both or all those openings have an aggregate area

which is less than half of the area of the walls, including any other structures serving the purpose of walls, which constitute the perimeter of the premises”

Where a licence holder has an outdoors area that they wish to use that is not covered by their premises licence, the Aberdeenshire Licensing Board will accept an occasional licence for the outdoor area.

Legislation provides that all applications for occasional licences must be advertised for 7 days before grant. Given the current circumstances, and as a very short term measure to aim to support business as much as possible, we will aim to turnaround applications in 8 days. This can only be achieved if applications are made online. It will not be possible to grant applications in a shorter timescale if applications are made on paper. In order to facilitate the turn around of applications as soon as possible, the only viable method of submitting applications is online. View how to apply for an occasional licence online.

Please also note that depending on location of any proposed outdoor areas you may also require to gain street café consent. Find out how to apply for street café consent.

Any licence that is granted will be subject to a condition that the licence holder will comply with any government guidance related to the coronavirus including on social distancing and whether opening is permitted.

An outdoor space can include gardens and car parks. Please include within the licensing objective risk assessment what the impact on the closure of that outdoor space for its usual purpose will be. For example, if it is a car park, is there sufficient parking elsewhere?

Please also be aware, that you may require other permissions from the Council, such as consent to use pavements or temporary planning permission. Applications submitted for occasional licences will be shared with other council services such as planning, environmental health, roads, transportation and building standards. This is not part of the statutory process but will ensure that you receive advice on all aspects of your plans.

If you wish to make any changes a permanent addition to your premises licence you will require to make a major variation, however the Board will permit you to apply for occasional licences to trade in the interim.

Application Process

The Licensing Team, and our consultees, are committed to turning around applications as quickly as we possibly can, however cannot guarantee that we will be able to process applications for a specific date, particularly with very short notice. Saying that, we really do appreciate how difficult it is for businesses to apply in advance given the current situation. Please give us as much notice as possible as the more time we have to deal with the applications the better. The team will do the best that we can in this situation to deal with the applications as quickly as we can.

Much of our ability to turn applications around quickly will depend both on how we receive applications and the volume of applications that we receive. Paper applications will take longer to process as our teams are not working in physical offices. Please do not hand in a paper application if at all possible. We would strongly encourage all to apply online which is the quickest way for us to deal with your application. Please make sure that you attach a plan showing the outdoor area you wish to licence to your application and make sure that you complete all of the information as fully as possible. This will ensure that we have all the information that we need to process your application swiftly without requiring clarification.

Scenarios

I have a premises licence for a bar. I also have a beer garden that is detailed on my operating plan and layout plan.

In this situation, the advice would be that unless there are any changes that you would want to make, you are able to use the licence that you have already in the areas that you already have licensed. It is your responsibility as licence holder to make sure that you comply with physical distancing rules as set out by the Scottish Government. It is recommended that you complete a risk assessment for the safe operation of your premises taking Scottish Government Guidance into account.

I have a premises licence for a restaurant. I have an outdoor space or garden that I can put tables and chairs into. I do not have outdoor drinking in my operating plan nor is it in the layout plan.

In this situation, the advice would be that if you wish to open the outdoor space, you would need to apply for an occasional licence. An Occasional licence can only be applied for areas that are not covered by a premises licence. It is recommended that you also complete a risk assessment for the safe operation of your premises taking Scottish Government Guidance into account.

I have a premises licence and I have a licensed outdoor area. I want to extend the licensed area so that it is bigger.

You can apply for an occasional licence for the additional outdoor space. An Occasional licence can only be applied for areas that are not covered by a premises licence. It is recommended that you also complete a risk assessment for the safe operation of your premises taking Scottish Government Guidance into account.

Premises licences food takeaway and delivery services

The Licensing Board is supportive of licensed premises which wish to provide a food take away and food delivery service.

If food is sold on the premises, but the operating plan contained in the licence for the premises does not contain an express term to the effect that food may be taken away, or delivered, from the premises for consumption off the premises, a term to that effect is to be implied into the operating plan. The Licensing Board's alcohol delivery conditions which can be found at Section E12 should be complied with when alcohol is being delivered.

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.

Transfers

A person other than the licence holder can apply for a transfer of a premises licence under s.34 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 in certain circumstances, i.e. where the premises licence holder has died, is incapacitated, insolvent or of the business has transferred. This application can usually only be made within 28 days of the event triggering the transfer. However, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has made provision so that if a person is unable to apply to the Board within the 28 day period for a reason related to coronavirus, the Board may accept an application after the usual 28 days.

Temporary closures due to coronavirus

At the moment, licensed premise are closed due to the UK Lockdown. There are provisions in the legislation that if a premises ceases to be used for the sale of alcohol that the licence will cease to have effect. 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.

The Scottish Government have agreed, through legislation, that if the premises cease to be used for the sale of alcohol for a temporary period for a reason relating to the coronavirus, that a premises licence will not cease to have effect.

Provisional premises licences

Holders of provisional premises licences may apply to the Licensing Board for an extension of the duration of the provisional premises licence for six months. The Board must grant a first extension of six months only if the Board is satisfied that:

  • the construction or conversion of the premises has been delayed and that this has been caused by factors outwith the premises licence holders control
  • that the reason for the delay is a reason related to the coronavirus 

Changes to premises manager

The deadline for notification to the Board of any of the following events has been extended from the usual 7 days, to 28 days notice. These events are:

  • where the premises manager no longer works at the premises
  • if the premises manager becomes incapable for any reason
  • if the premises manager dies
  • if the personal licence held by the premises manager is revoked or suspended

Following on from notification, the deadline to submit a minor variation to substitute a new premises manager is extended from 6 weeks from the event to 3 months. The Board also has flexibility if there is a request from an applicant, due to a reason related to coronavirus, to extend that period if necessary.

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

At the Board meeting on 29 April 2020 the Licensing Board agreed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the period in which refresher training must be completed and the certificate presented to the Board in relation to personal licences should be extended from three to nine months from the date of the expiry of the 5 year anniversary of the grant of the licence with effect from 6th April 2020.

A personal licence holder should make an application for a renewal of their licence within the 9 month period beginning 12 months before the expiry of the licence. In other words, the renewal application must be in 3 months before the expiry of the licence and no later. However, new legislation has provided a relaxation of this rule if the Board are satisfied that, for a reason related to COVID-19, the holder of the personal licence is unable to apply within that period, then they have until the day before the expiry date of the licence to submit their renewal application.

Where an application has been made for a personal licence renewal before the expiry date of the licence, but the Licensing Board has not determined the application by the expiry date, the licence will be effectively granted an additional 6 months beginning on the expiry date.

For example, if the expiry date is 8th April, and the application is submitted on the 4th April, the expiry date would be extended to the 7th October.

Occasional licenses - events

In light of current advice from both the UK and Scottish Government it might be that you have decided to cancel or postponeyour 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. Where we have not yet granted your licence, ,we will place the application on hold for processing pending notification of a new date. In this case your original fee will stand. If the licence has already been granted, there is no legal mechanism for us to vary a licence that has already been granted.

It should also be emphasised however, that should this licence be used 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.