South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify their food business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The following advice is intended as additional guidance for those businesses providing takeaways and delivering meals into the community. It should be used in conjunction with, and to supplement the business's own food policy (Safer Food Better Business, or equivalent) and Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is detailed on the website.


Planning Laws are being relaxed so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways for a limited period.


Tenants must check their permitted user clauses in their lease.


Takeaways would fall under the licensable activity of "providing late night refreshment" if "at any time between the hours of 11.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m. hot food or hot drinks are supplied to members of the public, or section of the public, on or from any premises, whether for consumption on or off the premises."

Your licence will specify if you are licensed for the supply of late night refreshment, or for the sale of alcohol for consumption on or off the premises or both.

If your licence specifies that alcohol may be sold "for consumption on the premises only", then you may not sell alcohol to take-away. If you plan to supply alcohol by home deliveries, you must be very careful to observe age checks and put in place safeguards to ensure that no under-age deliveries take place. Anyone who is not a personal licence holder will need to be authorised to supply alcohol by a personal licence holder, whether on or off the premises.

There are no licensing restrictions on the delivery of cold soft drinks and cold food. The usual restrictions on the supply of hot food and hot drinks relate to supplies for consumption on or off the licensed premises between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. only. There are no restrictions outside of those times

Delivery planning

Current scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread through food, however, if you are changing how you usually operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

A business will only be in a position to do this if they are registered as a food business with the Council, have been inspected for food safety and hold a current food hygiene rating.

Cashless payments should be set up to avoid cash/change payment at the site of delivery - BACS, telephone card payment, or similar is suggested.

Any advertising/menu should include an allergen prompt to encourage anyone with an allergy or dietary requirement to enquire about this in advance. The allergy information in Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) should be followed and a decision made whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for or not. Furthermore, a general assessment needs to be made as to whether a delivery service can be safely provided alongside an in-house food service.

The Safer Food Better Business pack should be updated/enhanced to reflect the delivery service and how it will be offered safely.

Safer Food, Better Business

It is advised that food is offered cooked and ready to consume immediately i.e. the customer cooling food for consumption later is best avoided.

Determine if you are also going to cook, cool and send food out cold for consumption at a later time. If so, the cooling of food safe methods must be followed in Safer Food Better Business and the advice to the customer should be to fully re-heat, where appropriate (above 75oC)/until piping hot and to consume the same day.

Food cooking/packing

It is suggested that you record the core temperature of your cooked high risk in your SFBB diary daily. Food should not be cooked too far in advance of service and adequate provision needs to be made for it to be hot held until sent out for delivery at 63oC or above.

The food should be packaged in a disposable, lidded container. This should not be returned by the customer for re-use.

You should provide an adequate number of insulated boxes for delivery to ensure the food arrives to the customer at 63oC or above. The distance and number of deliveries needing to be made will form part of this consideration and it is recommended to keep distances fairly short and times limited to within 30 minutes.

It is strongly suggested that the insulated box is made of a wipeable material i.e. plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis.

The insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day before used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day.

Consideration will need to be given to a separate insulated box for any cold food deliveries i.e. food to be re-heated later in the day or cold puddings. These should be supplied with an adequate number of ice packs to ensure cold food arrives at 8oC or colder. The ice packs should be sanitised as per the insulated box.

You should carry out periodic checks to ensure the food is arriving adequately hot or cold and record this in the Safer Food Diary.

Use of delivery staff/vehicles

You should check that the car insurance of the delivery driver covers business use and that the vehicle is safe (copy of most recent MOT, or similar). The vehicle should be generally clean and tidy. There should also be no smoking in the vehicle.

The delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place. Staff need to be checked daily to ensure they aren't showing any relevant Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (fever, persistent cough etc). If so, they need to be immediately sent home as per the self-isolation guidance. The usual 48-hour exclusion applies for non-Coronavirus (COVID-19) related sickness and diarrhoea.

The driver, where possible, should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive kitchen staff contact. It is suggested that one of the kitchen staff 'box up' the food and place in a low risk area of the kitchen ready for the driver to pick up and deliver. The driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the kitchen.

Food delivery

If possible, the driver should be provided with alcohol hand sanitiser at 60% + alcohol content as suggested by Public Health England, for periodic use between the individual deliveries.

It is preferable if there is no physical handing over of the food from the driver to the customer. There should be a set drop off point established in advance such as the door step. The doorbell or door can then be rung/knocked and the driver to distance themselves 6 feet (2 Metres) as per Public Health guidance. This is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill.

You must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering. Drivers should not enter the customers property in any circumstance.

Consideration needs to be given where a customer does not answer the door as to whether the food will be left or returned. Setting up an approximate time of delivery and contact details such as a telephone number should help minimise this issue.

Food Takeaway

If you are planning on providing food which customers can collect from your premises, much of the guidance above still applies. You should encourage non-cash payments, with telephone, BACS or contactless payments being preferable.

You should also designate a low risk area for handover of the food. This should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible. Staff handing over the food should place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer. This area should regularly be sanitised throughout the day and staff should wash their hands after each handover.

Queue control is required.

You must not allow customers to consume food or drink on the premises, including any area adjacent to the business or an outside seating area, including areas that may not be under your control.

Further guidance/links

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have provided advice for business - How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.

Allergens - There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website.

The Government have issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses. You can read this here.