Downing Street has said pubs can serve takeaway drinks from 12 April in a move the hospitality industry hailed as “vital” to the sector’s survival.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman confirmed on Thursday that people in England would be allowed to buy takeaway alcohol once beer gardens reopen, which is scheduled to take place in phase two of the roadmap out of lockdown.
It means pubs that do not have outdoor seating areas – which, according to UKHospitality, accounts for almost 60 per cent of England’s drinking venues – can at least partially reopen and resume sales.
“Outdoor hospitality is permitted so I believe it would be the case that takeaway alcohol will be permitted,” the PM’s spokesman said.
Buying a takeaway alcoholic drink from pubs, restaurants and bars was made illegal going into the third national lockdown, despite being allowed under previous restrictions.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said the clarity on the rule from 12 April was “great news for pubs”.
“Allowing takeaway alcohol will be a vital lifeline for many and could be the difference between survival and failure,” she added.
But Society of Independent Brewers chief executive James Calder questioned why the government was allowing sales of takeaway alcohol earlier.
He asked: “If two individuals are allowed to meet for a coffee from 8 March, why not for a takeaway pint?” he asked.
Indoor areas of pubs and restaurants will not be open before 17 May.