Will off-licences close during lockdown and are there any restrictions on buying alcohol?

NON-essential shops have been ordered to temporarily close from Thursday as England enters into its second national lockdown.

Newsagents and off-licences were allowed to remain open during the coronavirus shut down in March as they were considered essential.

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While supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to stay open, restaurants, pubs and clothes stores are among those that must shut down.

Food outlets are allowed to continue offering deliveries and takeaways, although this time there's a ban on takeaway pints.

The restriction will have many shoppers wondering if more rules for the sale of alcohol are on the way and what it means for off-licences.

The government is set to publish further details on restrictions for retailers later this week. For now, we take you through what we know so far.

Will off-licences close during lockdown?

Newsagents and off-licences stayed open throughout lockdown in March so customers could continue to buy food and household goods.

Even though specific details haven't been outlined yet, it's expected that they will be able to stay open throughout the shutdown.

The limited details released by the government so far outline that "food shops" and "certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open". It's likely off-licences fall into this category.

Businesses that can stay OPEN during England’s second lockdown

THE list of businesses that are allowed to stay open during lockdown is largely the same as last time. These include:

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Takeaways, food deliveries and food shops
  • Health shops
  • Medical services, such as dentists
  • Vets
  • Newsagents
  • Pet shops
  • Hardware stores
  • Garden centres
  • Retail shops in hospitals
  • Petrol stations
  • Bicycle shops
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Undertakers
  • Banks, building societies
  • Short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points
  • Storage and distribution centres
  • Post Offices
  • Car rental services and car parks near vital services such as supermarkets
  • Public toilets
  • Car garages and repair shops
  • Food banks and shelters
  • Hotels, hostels and other accommodation (for work purposes only)

They will still have to abide by Covid-secure rules though, such as allowing enough room for customers to socially distance while in the shop.

Shoppers must also wear a face mask when going inside an offy.

Can I still buy alcohol during lockdown?

In recent months, the government has taken measures aimed at helping us to drink less, to stop us from overdoing it and ending up in hospital, to relieve pressure on the NHS.

This is partly why the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants was introduced in September and the reason behind the ban on takeaway booze.

It's expected that supermarkets and off-licences that are allowed to stay open will be able to sell whatever they like, including alcohol.

This is different to the lockdown rules in Wales, where supermarkets were forbidden from selling non-essential goods.

Online booze retailers, such as Naked Wines or Honest Brew, are likely to be able to continue selling alcohol too.

It's also worth checking a delivery app like Deliveroo or Just Eat to see if a local wine shop or off licence has partnered with them to deliver supplies.

The Cabinet Office says further details will be published later this week.

Which shops will have to close during lockdown?

Shops that aren't considered essential are required to close from November 5 until at least December 2.

This includes stores that only sell clothes, electronics, books, gifts and homeware, as well as all pubs, bars and restaurants. 

Gyms and other fitness centres will also close, even though they were the last to reopen after the previous lockdown lifted. 

These are the businesses that have to close until December 2:

  • Restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Non-essential shops, including electronics and clothing stores
  • Hairdressers and nail salons 
  • Gyms
  • Vehicle showrooms
  • Travel agents
  • Betting shops
  • Auction houses 
  • Tailors
  • Car washes
  • Tobacco and vape shops 
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms
  • Swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges
  • Dance studios
  • Stables and riding centres 
  • Soft play centres
  • Climbing walls
  • Archery and shooting ranges
  • Water and theme parks 
  • Theatres and concert halls
  • Cinemas
  • Museums and galleries
  • Bingo halls
  • Adult gaming centres, casinos and arcades 
  • Zoos and other animal attractions
  • Botanical gardens 
  • Tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Spas
  • Massage parlours
  • Tanning salons 
  • Non-medical acupuncture 

Support groups, such as those for victims of crimes, people in drug and alcohol recovery, and new parents, will be allowed to continue. 

Job Centre Plus sites, courts and civil registration offices will also stay open.

Anyone breaking the rules will be liable for fines from at least £30 – and up to £1,000.

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