Northern Ireland Licensing Act: Pub Hours Extended To Overcome Stormont’s Final Hurdle
Licensing laws which will extend the opening hours of pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland are expected to pass their final stage in Stormont on Tuesday morning.
The reforms include removing restrictions that currently limit trading hours during the Easter period.
They would also pave the way for some licensed establishments to be able to serve alcohol for an extra hour up to 104 times a year.
This would allow alcohol to be served until 2 a.m. on weekends.
The majority of changes to the legislation are expected to come into effect from October 1, 2021, so that venues can use extended hours until the Christmas period.
Other measures will come into force from April 6, 2022 in time for next Easter.
The current 30-minute “drink” time for all licensed establishments would be increased to one hour under the bill, to discourage people from drinking too quickly and to allow more time for gradual late night departures. .
This would allow pubs to stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
Cinemas will also be allowed for the first time in Northern Ireland to apply for a license to sell alcohol to customers following an amendment by Independent MP Claire Sugden.
The legislation will also see the law strengthened in some areas, with restrictions on certain advertisements for alcoholic beverages in supermarkets and other outlets.
The licensing laws were last updated here in the 1990s.
An attempt to update the legislation was progressing in the Assembly before the power-sharing collapse in 2017, but this bill was lost when institutions collapsed.
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