COVID-19: Changes to our Licensing services

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 isolation if you have symptoms.

We have made changes to our Licensing services to help minimise the disruption caused to licence holders by COVID-19. These will apply to current licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a new licence.

Face to Face Appointments

We have taken the difficult decision to close the Customer Contact Centre to applicants and licence holders. This decision has not been taken lightly and is a direct result of the information from Government. We must consider the health of those working in the Customer Contact Centre and those who will be attending.

Submitting Applications

We are asking customers to only submit essential applications. You should expect most applications to take longer than normal to process.

Committee Meetings

All meetings of the Licensing Committee and its Sub-Committees have now restarted

Guidance for Taxi and Private Hire Car/Driver Licence Holders

Driver applications

The way we process driver applications has changed, see our Taxi Guidance Covid-19 (PDF, 153KB) for guidance.

Knowledge Tests

Knowledge Tests have now restarted however this is at a reduced capacity and dates are limited.

Vehicle Test

Our vehicle test centres are open but running at a reduced capacity. When you contact us to make payment the officer will also book your vehicle in for test. New rules have been implemented at both our testing station for your safety and the testers. 

Medicals (renewal applications only)

We are mindful of the pressures that the NHS and GPs are currently experiencing. On that basis you can submit your application without this information. Please declare if you have had any medical issues since your last application that we need to know about. Provided we have no cause for concern your renewal application will be processed and a licence issued. You will be required to provide a medical at a later date. You will be contacted directly if this affects you.

Protective measures for taxis and private hire vehicles

See guidance on the use of face masks by passengers and drivers.  

The Department for Transport and Public Health England has issued guidance to transport sector workers and guidance to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. and Taxis and Private Hire Vehicle Q&A (PDF, 379KB).

Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19): sector guidance

Taxis and private hire vehicle trade undertaking delivery work should see the Government information on ‘Deliveries’ as well as ‘Transport businesses’. Measures contained in the section on ‘Use of private vehicles and car pooling’ would apply to the taxi and private hire vehicle sector for example, maintaining good ventilation.

Cleaning of non-healthcare settings

Public Health England have provided guidance on the cleaning of non-healthcare settings, this is available at Gov.uk - COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings.

Support for the taxi and private hire vehicle trade

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme is available at Gov.uk - check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Universal Credit - information is available at Gov.uk - support for those affected by COVID-19.

Assistance for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. More information on the measures is available at Gov.uk - financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Department for Transport information

The Department for Transport strongly suggest if you have not already, that you sign-up to the COVID-19 update service to receive emails when information changes on GOV.UK about COVID-19.

Please see the following for information regarding taxis and private hire vehicles:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): taxis and private hire vehicles Guidance

To help drivers and operators of taxis and private hire vehicles stay safe, prevent the spread of coronavirus, and ensure passengers are well informed the department has produced sector-specific guidance for the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) industry. You can access the latest on GOV.UK by visiting the Coronavirus (COVID-19): taxis and private hire vehicles page.

Travel Action Cards

The Travel Action Cards, one of which covers taxis and private hire vehicles, have been updated.

Driver licences

Drivers with a  DVLA photocard driving licence or a driving licence entitlement that expires between 1 February and 31 December 2020 will be given a 11-month extension from the date of expiry. This means that a driver will not need to renew their photocard or entitlement to drive until 11 months after the original expiry date.

Drivers do not need to take any action as this extension will be granted automatically and they will be sent a renewal reminder before their 11-month extension ends.

More information can be found on GOV.UK -  DVLA Coronavirus (COVID-19) update page.

Businesses selling alcohol

Reopening of restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services

Government Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes or takeaways.

Automatic entitlement for temporary off sales

The Business and Planning Act 2020 has been issued granting premises licences, which are licenced for the sale of alcohol, a temporary entitlement to provide off sales of alcohol. The permission is only given to businesses with premises licences, so organisations with club premises certificates are not covered by the provisions in the Act. Organisations with club premises certificates that do not permit off-sales, will need to seek permission to do so from the licensing authority. In addition, a premises licence that only permits on-sales will be excluded if, within the three years preceding on day 22 July 2020:

  • a premises licence application was made for a licensed premises and permission for off-sales was refused
  • a licence variation seeking permission for off-sales was refused
  • a licence variation seeking to exclude the off-sales permission was accepted
  • the premises licence was varied or modified on review to exclude off-sales

If you are making use of the new temporary permission for off-sales, a section 172F statement must be prominently displayed at the premises alongside the summary of your premises licence. The premises licence holder can either prepare their own statement or use the licensing teams template 172F statement (PDF, 74kb).

Failure to comply with these requirements without reasonable excuse is an offence.

The permission will lapse on 30 September 2021, unless the temporary period is extended by regulations made by the Secretary of State or is otherwise suspended, removed or varied.

For more information see Alcohol licensing: guidance on new temporary off-sales permissions

Premises with a Premises Licence (under Licensing Act 2003) who want to operate an alcohol delivery service

We understand that licensed premises with a Premises Licence or a Club Premises Certificate may look to change their business model and diversify in order to maintain their business during this time.

A Pub, off licence, or Club will be able to offer an alcohol delivery service but can only do so if their existing Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate (your Licence/Certificate) includes the provision of ‘off sales’ of alcohol. In respect of Clubs this must be to members only.

Complying with the law

You need to have Alcohol ‘Off Sales’ on your Licence/Certificate. In the conditions on your Licence/Certificate there must not be any condition that prohibits or restricts this activity. If there are relevant conditions on the Licence/ Certificate then these must be adhered to.

The supply of alcohol would have to be done (dispatched) from the premises that is detailed in the Licence/Certificate, and no other premises.

You can only operate this service within the hours for alcohol sales in your Licence/Certificate (so for example if your alcohol sales finishes at 23:00 hrs then you must stop all online or telephone ordering at this time – for this reason we expect that alcohol is paid for at the time of ordering AND NOT on the doorstep).

Only a person who is over 18 years old can purchase the alcohol, so there needs to be a reasonable process in place to check this is able to be done at point of order. If this cannot be done then it is expected that the order is declined.

If you are delivering alcohol then there needs to be a comprehensive policy in place to make sure it is received by someone who is over 18 years of age. It is useful to adopt the Check 25 process when the alcohol is passed from courier to customer. Photo ID of the person receiving is essential and if your delivery driver cannot verify age then the delivery should not be made.

Contact-free delivery

Limiting contact when delivering orders will help keep everyone healthy, so you could consider requesting Photo ID be left for examination on the floor at the door of your customer, once checked (via through window or closed see through door if possible) the ID can be left with the delivery rather than physically handing it over to them. If this is not possible, knock on the door, step back at least 2 metres, request ID for checking and leave the order nearby on the property for your customer to collect. Payment for the goods including delivery charge must be made at point of order. There should be no a cash payment at delivery.

Hand washing

Regardless of the availability of hand sanitisers, all goods handlers should regularly wash their hand using warm running water, hand soap and drying with disposable towels. Remember effective hand washing takes time.

Support for pubs, clubs and restaurants

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. See Gov.uk - COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses.

See our COVID19 grants for businesses