This guidance is for current licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a new Licence. It explains the changes we are making to our Licensing Services due to the disruption caused to licence holders by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This guidance includes recent changes to the law made by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Our guidance may change in line with developing Government guidance and legislation.

Health advice for ALL licence-holders

Everyone has a role to play in limiting the spread of Coronavirus (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.

You should follow the health advice on the Scottish Government website.


Taxi and Private Hire – Guidance on use of screens and face masks

What has changed?

Guidance has been produced for Taxi and Private Hire Car Licence Holders by the Environmental Health/Trading Standards Expert Officers' Group. This Guidance has been accepted by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland and covers the following matters:

  • Stay at home guidance and physical (social) distancing between drivers and passengers both inside and outside the vehicle (eg assisting with bags or opening the boot for luggage/shopping etc
  • Use of partitions or screens
  • Hand and respiratory hygiene for drivers and passengers in taxis and PHCs
  • Use of face coverings by drivers and passengers in taxis and PHCs. Please note that this incorporates the Scottish Government's announcement made on 18 June 2020 that from 22 June 2020 face coverings will be mandatory in all taxi and private hire vehicles subject to the exemptions detailed.
  • Wheelchair and passenger assistance
  • Cleaning of vehicles
Updated Guidance for Holders of Taxi and Private Hire Licences

Further information from Transport Scotland on face coverings.

The Licensing Authority requires all Taxi and Private Hire Car Licence Holders to comply with the Guidance issued.

What we need you to do

This depends on whether or not you intend to install a safety screen.

If you don't plan to install a screen, you should follow the guidance above as it applies to you.

If you do, it is essential that you advise your insurer of the change to your vehicle.

Before you have the screen fitted, you must tell us by sending an email to licensing@falkirk.gov.uk. Please use "Proposed Protective Screen – Taxi/PHC (insert plate number)" as the email subject. Your email should confirm that the proposed screen complies with the specification set out in the guidance above and you must also attach a copy of the letter from your insurer confirming that your insurance to operate as a taxi/private hire vehicle would be unaffected by the proposed installation of the protective screen in your licensed vehicle.

What we are doing

We are accepting the addition of a screen as a temporary change to your vehicle and we will therefore not require you to make an application to vary your licence.

We will keep a copy of the letter from your insurer on file.

We will update our information on our on a regular basis.


General advice for ALL licence-holders

Emergency period

The FAQs below refer to the "emergency period". This is the period which started on Thursday 26 March 2020 and will continue until the Scottish Government says it has stopped. This term is set by the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which sets out the rules for businesses and the public during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.

Reception services

Our licensing office is now closed but we are operating a skeleton service remotely to answer your questions. If, after reading the following guidance, you still need to contact us then we would prefer that you do that by email: licensing@falkirk.gov.uk.

Committee and board meetings

All meetings have been cancelled until August 2020. As this is an evolving situation, we will keep you updated about future meetings.

Taxi and Civic Licences – Expiry of current licences and submitting renewals

When renewing your licence, the law allows you 28 days after the expiry date to submit your renewal application if you have a good reason for doing so. In the current circumstances, the law has been temporarily changed to allow you to submit your renewal application upto 3 months after the expiry date.

This means:

  • if your licence was due to expire at the end of March, you now have until the end of June to submit your renewal application. If your licence was due to expire at the end of April, you have until the end of July to submit your renewal application and so on. It will allow you to trade during this additional 3 months subject to any government guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • you can continue to trade while we process your application.
  • your licence will be renewed for either 1 or 3 years, depending on your application, from the expiry of your licence. In other words, if your licence was due to expire at the end of March 2020, your licence will be renewed until the end of March 2021. If your licence was due to expire at the end of April, your licence will be renewed until the end of April 2021, and so on.

We currently have a backlog of renewal applications to process and we will be dealing with this on a month to month basis starting with any outstanding March renewals.

We can only now accept applications submitted by email. Our email address is licensing@falkirk.gov.uk. If you have not supplied a valid email address to us previously, we will be contacting you by phone for this information. We can then email you an application form for you to complete and return to us. The application must have with it all supporting documentation if required. If you do not have the facility to scan your documents, then a photograph, as long as the image is clear, is acceptable.

We can no longer accept payment in cash or by cheque so all fees must be paid by credit or debit card. We will phone you once we have checked that your application is competent for the fee.

Application forms and guidance can be found in our Licensing section.

Taxi and Civic Licences – Submitting new applications

In the current circumstances we are asking that, where possible, only essential applications are submitted and these should be submitted to us by email. The application must have with it all supporting documentation. If you do not have the facility to scan your documents, then a photograph, as long as the image is clear, is acceptable. Please note that we do not have the facility to take payment online or by cash or cheque and therefore we will contact you by phone to take payment by card. Please make sure that your phone number is on the application form. Most applications can be downloaded from our website.

You should be aware that it may take some time to review and process your application in the current circumstances.

All Other types of Licences – Submitting applications

In the current circumstances we are asking that, where possible, only essential applications are submitted. These should be emailed to us to at licensing@falkirk.gov.uk. The application must have with it all supporting documentation. If you do not have the facility to scan your documents, then a photograph, as long as the image is clear, is acceptable. Please note that we do not have the facility to take payment online and therefore we will contact you when we're able to take the fee. Most applications can be downloaded from our website.

You should be aware that it may take some time to review and process your application in the current circumstances.


Frequently asked questions

Alcohol - Occasional Licences

I have an Occasional Licence for an event. Can it still take place?

No. The Law was changed on 26 March 2020. Because of the emergency period, it is now illegal for anyone to be in a gathering in a public place of more than two people. There are a few exceptions, but none of these are likely to cover the event you wanted an Occasional Licence for.

The exceptions include:

  • gatherings where all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household
  • funerals (interments and cremations – not post-event gatherings)

If none of the exceptions apply, anyone involved can be prosecuted and faces fines of up to £10,000. Also, the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60.

See Regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Alcohol - Personal Licences

I have received a letter from the Licensing Board advising me to undertake training as my licence is due to expire. What should I do?

If you have already sat your training and received your certificate, follow the guidance on our Personal licence page.

Please try to meet the timescales in your letter and submit your renewal application. At the moment we are not in a position to acknowledge your renewal application or to process it.

If you have not sat your training and you are unable to do so due to the coronavirus outbreak see paragraph below.

Please note that your personal licence will still be valid.

My 'refresher training' course was cancelled because of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and I can't get a training course before the 5-year deadline. What happens?

If the Licensing Board is satisfied that the coronavirus outbreak means completion of necessary training cannot be done in line with the normal timescales, they can extend the period up to a length of time of their choosing for completion of the necessary training and for the licence holder to provide evidence of having undertaken the training. The Licensing Board can extend the period more than once.

Please note that your personal licence will still be valid.


Alcohol - Premises Licences

Is my Premises Licence affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No. Normally where a licensed premises ceases to be used for the sale of alcohol, the licence ceases to have effect. However, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has made a temporary change to this so that premise licences for premises that are closed temporarily as a result of coronavirus will not be classed as ceasing to have effect.

I have a Premises Licence for a pub or restaurant. Can I open?

Not for on-sales (sit-in) eating or drinking. You must not allow these during the emergency period. If you do:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your licence
  • the Police might make a Closure Order.

See Regulation 3(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

The prohibition applies to:

  • Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members' clubs
  • Cafes (there are exceptions for cafes and canteens in a hospital, care home, school, prison, military forces establishment or for a service providing food for the homeless)
  • Bars, including bars in hotels or members' clubs
  • Public houses
  • Beer gardens or outside sitting areas which form part of the Premises Licence.

I have a Premises Licence for an off-licence shop. Can I open?

Yes, but you have to follow 'social distancing' rules both inside your shop and outside it. If you don't:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your licence
  • the Police might make a Closure Order.

You must take all reasonable measures to ensure that:

  1. a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a Carer and the person assisted by the Carer),
  2. the premises only admit people in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance,
  3. a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a Carer and the person assisted by the Carer).

See Regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

I don't have 'off-sales' in my Premises Licence. Can I sell alcohol to take-away?

No.

I have 'off-sales' in my Premises Licence. Can I sell alcohol to take-away?

Yes, but only where this is sold on the premises for consumption off the premises.

Can I sell food to take-away?

Yes, but only if you are registered with Falkirk Council's Food & Safety team and were selling food/meals on the premises before the emergency period. If you are unsure please contact fs@falkirk.gov.uk.

During the emergency period you can sell food for take-away or delivery even if your Premises Licence does not cover this ie it is not in your Operating Plan. If you want to keep selling take-away food after the emergency period, you will be required to apply to the Licensing Board to vary your Premises Licence.

Can I do home-delivery of alcohol?

If you hold a premises licence and sell alcohol on the internet or make home deliveries of alcohol from your premises, the Board expects this to be included as an activity in your Operating Plan and for the sales and subsequent deliveries to comply with the relevant provisions of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. If your premises are licensed for off sales you can deliver alcohol but you must make sure that the delivery is properly recorded with records kept by the store and by the person who is making the delivery of alcohol.

Challenge 25 should also be implemented at the point of handover of the alcohol.

Once we return to normal working services, the Licensing Board would fully expect premises to make application to have their licence varied to include internet sales and/or home delivery of alcohol.

My Designated Premises Manager (DPM) has left. What should I do?

In the first instance you should email us at licensing@falkirk.gov.uk to let us know. In normal circumstances, the premises licence holder has 7 days to notify the Licensing Board. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 allows additional time for this – you now have 28 days and you have upto 3 months from the date of the loss of the DPM to make an application to substitute a new designated premises manager.

Are there any changes to transferring a Premises Licence?

Yes, if you are applying for the transfer and you are not the current Licence holder.

Normally such applications have to be made within 28 days of the occurrence of certain events. These events are listed in the application form that is available on our website. Now, there is the discretion for Licensing Boards to be able to accept applications for the transfer of premises licences after the 28 day deadline. This discretion is available where the Licensing Board considers it appropriate in respect of the coronavirus outbreak. A premises licence continues to have effect when a late transfer application is accepted by the Licensing Board. The licence ceases to have effect if that application is ultimately refused.

No if you are applying for the transfer and you are the current Licence holder.


Alcohol - Outdoor drinking (25 June 2020)

What has changed?

The Scottish Government has now published it's gradual 4 phase road map which outlines how we will move out of the current stage of lockdown.

Phase 2 will see the opening of pubs and restaurants' outdoor drinking area with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines. The proposed date for this is 06 July 2020.

The Scottish Government has published guidance for the licensed trade on their website.

What we are doing

The Licensing Board is keen to assist licensed premises in relation to the use of outdoor drinking areas.

We are working with our colleagues in other Falkirk Council services such as Development Management, Roads, the Economic Development Unit and Environmental Health. We are doing this so we can give you advice on what you need to do if you want to use your existing outdoor drinking area, extend your existing outdoor drinking area or apply to have outdoor drinking added to your operating plan. It might also be possible to apply for outdoor drinking, via the use of an occasional licence, even if you do not already have that facility within your current operating plan.

We also work with our external stakeholders such as Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Forth Valley Health Board.

Once outdoor drinking areas are open, we will carry out inspections to ensure licence conditions are complied with and the 5 licensing objectives are being upheld.

We will update our information on a regular basis.

What can you do?

This depends on whether or not your licence includes outdoor drinking. You can see the options open to you from this flowchart:

Outdoor drinking area options

If you are looking to open an outdoor drinking area on a public area such as a road, pathway or part of a pedestrianised area, you must contact our Roads department roads@falkirk.gov.uk who will confirm if you need to apply for a road occupation permit.

You should also check with Development Management (Planning) dc@falkirk.gov.uk to see if you will need temporary planning permission.

Risk assessment

All premises MUST have had a risk assessment carried out before they open. The Scottish Government guidance makes it clear that it is the responsibility of the business operator to do this. To help you, the Scottish Government guidance includes a sample risk assessment. Your completed risk assessments should be sent to the Food Safety team fs@falkirk.gov.uk.

Sample risk assessment

Occasional licence

An application for an occasional licence must be accompanied by a statement on how you will address the 5 licensing objectives. This is particularly relevant in the current circumstances with the additional requirements around social distancing, increased hygiene and track and trace protocols.

You should confirm in your application that your risk assessment has been sent to the Food Safety team. A condition will be put on each occasional licence to stipulate compliance with regulations and guidance.

The maximum duration of an occasional licence is 14 days so potentially multiple applications will need to be submitted. The terminal hour for outdoor drinking is 2200 hours (10pm) however, if the premises is in a remote or rural area consideration will be given to a terminal hour of 2300 hours (11pm).

Application forms and guidance can be found in our Licensing section.


Gambling

I have a Licence for a Bingo Premises, a Betting Shop or Amusement Arcade. Can I open?

No.

You must close during the emergency period. If you open:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Licensing Board might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your licence.

See Regulation 3(4) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. Your premises are listed in Schedule 1 of those Regulations.


Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Can I still let tenants stay in my HMO?

Yes.

Can I evict tenants who have Coronavirus?

No. Even before the current emergency, a Landlord could only evict a tenant with an order from the "Housing and Property Chamber" of the "First Tier Tribunal". This still applies.

Can tenants stay in my house even if the tenants are not keeping up the rent?

Yes. Even before the current emergency, a Landlord could only evict a tenant with an order from the "Housing and Property Chamber" of the "First Tier Tribunal". This still applies. The rules about this have been changed by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. You should speak to your Letting Agent or take independent legal advice.

Can I cut off services like electricity and water if the tenants are not keeping up the rent?

No. This is against the law and the Police could charge you with an offence.

See the Scottish Government's Guidance for private landlords and letting agents.


Late Hours Catering (Take-away food shops)

I have a Late Hours Catering Licence. Can I stay open to sell food?

Yes, but you must follow 'social distancing' rules both inside your shop and outside it.

If you don't:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your licence.

You must take all reasonable measures to ensure that:

  1. a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a Carer and the person assisted by the Carer),
  2. the premises only admit people in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance,
  3. a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between 2 members of the same household, or a Carer and the person assisted by the Carer).

See Regulation 4(3) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Markets

I have a Market Operator's Licence. Can I open?

The only stalls which may operate are those selling food.

Any other stalls must close during the emergency period). If you open:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your Licence

See Regulation 3(4) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Parades and Marches

Can I take part in or watch a public procession during the emergency?

No.

From 26 March 2020, it is now illegal for anyone to be in a gathering in a public place of more than two people. There are a few exceptions, but none of these cover attending a Public Procession.

Anyone involved can be prosecuted and faces fines of up to £10,000. Also, the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60.

Until the emergency is over and the restrictions lifted, there will be no public gatherings, such as parades for Gala days, marches or any other procession. The Scottish Government will review the rules often and will lift the ban when it thinks the emergency is over.

See Regulation 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Public Entertainment including Funfairs

I have a Public Entertainment Licence. Can I open?

No.

From 26 March 2020, it is now illegal for anyone to be in a gathering in a public place of more than two people. There are a few exceptions, but none of these cover public entertainment or funfairs.

Anyone involved can be prosecuted and faces fines of up to £10,000. Also, the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60.

Additionally, funfairs both indoors and outdoors have been ordered to close.

See Regulations 3(4) and 6 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Street Traders

I have a Street Trader's Licence or a Pedlar's Certificate. Can I work?

This depends on whether or not you are selling food.

If you are selling food, you can work. If the only things you sell are not essential (for example, toys) you can't.

This is for two reasons:

  1. Outdoor markets must close, but there is an exception for stalls selling food
  2. the stay-at-home rule.

Outdoor markets

The only mobile shops or stalls which may operate are those selling food.

Any others must close during the emergency period. If you open:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your licence.

See Regulation 3(4) and Paragraph 21 of Schedule 1 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

The stay-at-home rule

If you are not selling food, then both:

  • you, and
  • the customers you would be selling to

would be breaking the Law, with the same possible results (prosecution etc). From 26 March), no person may leave the place where they are living without "reasonable excuse".

There are a few exceptions, such as:

  • to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies
  • to take exercise

But the usual rule is that everyone should stay at home.

See Regulations 5(1), 8(4) and 8(5) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.


Tattooing and Skin Piercing

I have a Tattoo and/or Skin Piercing business. Can I stay open?

No. You must close during the emergency period. If you open:

  • you can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £10,000
  • the Police can issue on-the-spot fines of £60
  • the Council might issue a Prohibition Notice or revoke or suspend your Licence

See Regulation 3(4) and Paragraph 16 of Schedule 1 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 No. 103.


Taxi and Private Hire Car Drivers

I've made a new application. What do I do about taking the taxi knowledge test?

All tests have been cancelled. If you are due to sit the test we will contact you with an appointment at a later date.

I have reached an age where I am required to have a medical. What do I do?

If you are due to have a medical because you have attained a certain age, these will be delayed due to the current situation. If you are due to renew your licence, we will contact you by phone or email.

Am I still allowed to operate?

Several drivers and operators have asked if they are still allowed to operate during the pandemic. At this time, current guidance and the new law from the UK and Scottish Governments supports that the trade can provide an "essential service" during the pandemic, by providing a means of transport for workers who cannot work from home, and for those in critical services, such as healthcare, key public services and utilities.

During the current coronavirus pandemic, passengers in taxis and private hire cars should expect to be asked if their journey is essential.

The UK Government has ordered many businesses and venues to close, with certain exceptions. Travel to work is allowed, but only where individuals cannot work from home.

The advice is clear: everyone should stay at home, and only go outside for food, health reasons or work - only if you cannot work from home.

UK Government advice: Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)

What I should I do to keep myself and my passengers safe?

You should follow the health advice on the Scottish Government website.

This states:

  • People with a new persistent cough or high temperature should stay at home
  • Do not drive your vehicle if you have the symptoms
  • Where possible, ask all passengers to sit in the back of your vehicle
  • Keep your vehicle clean to reduce the impact of the virus
  • Regularly clean surfaces, such as card payment devices, steering wheels, handbrake, and door handles, with normal cleaning products. (As a minimum: at the beginning, middle and end of a shift).
  • Carry a box of tissues and use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes
  • Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water (you can keep a bottle of water and a bar of soap in your vehicle) or use a sanitizer gel - do this for at least 20 seconds. Sanitizer gel should be a minimum 60% alcohol.

I can't get a new ID badge because the Licensing Office is closed. What happens?

When you apply to renew your licence, we will use your existing photograph and this will be sent to you with your licence. If you have lost your ID badge, please email us at licensing@falkirk.gov.uk and we will issue you with a new one. Payment for the new ID badge can only be paid by card over the phone. Remember to include your phone number in your email.


Taxi and Private Hire Car Operators

I've renewed my insurance since lockdown. What should I do?

You should advise us by email to licensing@falkirk.gov.uk attaching a copy of the new policy. Please remember to include your licence number in your email.

My vehicle is due a Hackney Test. Is there a change to the usual procedure?

Yes.

Fleet Services is currently closed. All taxi and private hire vehicles will require to hold a current and valid MOT to operate and, in these exceptional circumstances, taxi and private hire car operators can obtain their DVSA MOT certificate from an external provider.

The UK Department for Transport has announced that MOT Certificates have been extended for a 6 month period effective as of 30 March 2020. You must, however keep your vehicle roadworthy at all times.

The hackney element of the test has been temporarily set aside until the testing station is back to being fully operational. No new taxi plates will be issued.

Please note that it is the responsibility of operators to check with their insurance provider in light of the temporary change in testing arrangements to make sure that their cover remains in force and they can operate as normal.


Window Cleaners

I have a Window Cleaner's Licence. Can I work?

Yes, if you follow this Guidance:

  • you have no coronavirus symptoms
  • you keep at least 2 metres from anyone on the premises you are working on
  • you only work outside.