As high street restaurants, cafés, pubs, and bars emerge from an enforced hibernation, many are concerned about the impact of social distancing and other COVID-19 Secure measures on their ability to trade profitably – and seeking ways to top-up income lost through reduced capacity. However, independent businesses may have an advantage over larger chains having earned loyalty by looking after local customers at the height of the pandemic.
In fact, recent research found that more than half of consumers (53%) plan to support local businesses after lockdown by spending more.1 Similarly, a report from CGA AlixPartners suggests that local establishments, which have endured a tough few years, could emerge as winners from the coronavirus crisis as consumers prefer to visit local establishments before heading back to city and town centres.2
The issue for many will be to fully capitalise on any potential post-lockdown boom when their capacity is reduced by social distancing. One way to do that may be to establish a takeaway service alongside on-site dining – following the lead of more than 3,000 restaurants that did so in order to continue trading during lockdown.3 71% of consumers3 said they agreed takeaways from their local pub or restaurant could be seen as an essential service during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Setting up a Takeaway Service for Your Business may be Easier than you Think
The good news is, at present, some of the barriers to establishing takeaway services have been temporarily removed. Under normal circumstances, any restaurant, café, pub, or bar wishing to set up a takeaway service would be required to apply for ‘change of use’ planning permission.
Under new government emergency measures, any registered food business that has been inspected for food safety and holds a food hygiene rating can now call on ‘permitted development’ rights to establish a takeaway service3 ‒ though it is important to check ‘permitted use’ terms in your lease or speak to your landlord first.4 The only requirement from a planning permission point of view is to inform local council planning authorities when the takeaway service is to begin, and when it ends.
There are still some restrictions in place, however. For instance, any business wishing to sell any takeaway food between 11pm and 5am must hold a licence under the Licensing Act 2003, and businesses wishing to sell takeaway alcoholic drinks must have a permit to do so. That said, it is possible to secure a temporary ‘off sales’ permit by applying for a ‘temporary Events Notice’.5
If the emergency relaxation of planning regulations is reversed in future, it is possible that any business wishing to continue with a takeaway service will need to apply for formal planning permission. Equally, though planning law is not currently a barrier, there are a number of regulations ‒ from food safety to COVID-19 Secure measures – that must be observed when establishing a takeaway service for your business.
Establish a COVID-19 Secure Takeaway for Your Business
Public Health and Employee Safety
It will come as no surprise to learn that restaurants, cafés, pubs, and bars must observe COVID-19 Secure guidelines for takeaway services, as well as those related to serving customers on-site. Employee safety is vitally important too – both to ensure the business does not fall foul of Health and Safety Executive enforcement and to reassure staff that their working environment is as safe as it can be.
The guidelines, which cover both measures for on-site services as well as takeaway and deliveries are available here, but some of the specific guidelines for takeaway operations include:4
- Avoid taking orders in person on the premises.
- Manage collection times and queues carefully to avoid unnecessary contact.
- Customers should enter one at a time.
- Pack takeaway food in disposable, lidded containers.
- Establish a dedicated, low-risk area for takeaway collections.
- Staff should keep a safe distance from customers and follow sanitisation guidelines.
- Enable working from home where possible.
- Follow social distancing guidelines and reduce activities where this is not possible, or impose extra measures to ensure safety.
Even as restaurants, cafés, pubs, and bars focus on establishing COVID-19 Secure takeaway services, it is important that wider food safety and hygiene regulations are not overlooked. Some issues to consider include food allergies, and preparing food safely.
Further details on how to run a food takeaway service safely, can be found on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website.
Promoting Your Business’ Takeaway Service
If your restaurant is already taking a responsible approach to general food safety and hygiene, and adopting COVID-19 Secure measures as part of a general re-opening, then you may well find that the adaptations required to add a safe takeaway service for your restaurant, café, pub, or bar are relatively straightforward.
Getting a return on your efforts will mean making sure your customers are aware of the option, and feel safe using the service. Highly visible signage in and around the premises as well as promotional campaigns online and on social media will help to raise awareness of your brand-new business takeaway service – and can also be used to reassure customers of the steps you have taken to protect their health and safety.
Additionally, given the public’s desire to support independent high street restaurants, cafés, pubs, and bars like The Bow-Legged Beagle in New Brighton and Delliponti Caffe Italiano in Barrowford, it may be worth thinking about how you can work with other local businesses to capitalise on that goodwill. For instance, running campaigns to encourage diners to ‘Keep it Local’ and cross-promoting between neighbouring businesses – to help amplify changing habits as we emerge from lockdown.
Protect Your New Takeaway Service: Review your Insurance
It is important to remember that any restaurant, café, pub, or bar planning to offer takeaway services must inform their insurer – and possibly set out how they plan to ensure the service is safe and hygienic – to avoid issues later.
The first step is to review your restaurant insurance, café insurance, bar insurance, or pub insurance to ensure your business is covered for takeaway operations – and check with your insurance broker if you are unsure or think you may need to adapt your insurance cover to include your new business takeaway service.
Further information on insurance for high street businesses during the pandemic is available here.
Quotes from well-known and specialist insurers, including: