Thursday 4 March 2021 7:07 pm

Pubs without beer gardens to serve pints in car parks from April

Pubs without beer gardens will be able to serve takeaway pints in car parks when restrictions are eased in April, the government has confirmed.

Licensing rules for pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants were simplified last summer to make it easier for businesses to reopen in line with Covid guidelines after England’s first nationwide lockdown. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that these relaxed rules will remain in place when outdoor hospitality venues are allowed to given the green light to reopen — which could be as early as 12 April under the Prime Minister’s roadmap for leaving lockdown.

It means that pubs will be able to serve alcohol in pop-up seating areas and existing car parks and terraces. 

Temporary cheap licenses will also mean that more businesses will be able to sell alcohol to be taken off the premises and consumed elsewhere. 

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said that the “quicker, easier and cheaper” licensing rules will help venues get “back on their feet” when announcing them in June last year. 

It comes after Boris Johnson last week announced that beer gardens will be allowed to reopen for outdoor table service only from April at the earliest.

Venues will have to wait at least another five weeks before they are allowed to open indoors. On 17 May at the earliest, the rule of six and two-households rule will be introduced indoors, paving the way for upturned stools to return to carpets for indoor service.

However, rules will be simplified once pubs reopen, with the government set to scrap the substantial meal requirement and 10pm curfew.

Wetherspoons today announced it will open outdoor spaces in 394 pubs in April to meet the new Covid guidelines, though it added the pubs will be operating with a reduced menu and shorter days.

The pub chain’s venues will be open from 9am to 9pm from Sunday to Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday the pubs will stay open until 10pm. 

Punters will be offered a reduced menu, including breakfast, burgers, pizza, deli deals, fish and chips and “British classics”, and will be able to order and pay through the Wetherspoons app, although staff will be able to take orders and payment at the table from those without the app.

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “We are looking forward to welcoming our customers and staff back to our pubs.”

Read more: Wetherspoon taps investors for £94m as pub chain circles central London acquisitions

The pub chain’s 872 venues across the UK have remained shuttered under lockdown restrictions over the winter.