Cheers as new liquor laws hit the right balance in the NI Assembly.
Strangford Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has welcomed the new Licensing and Registration of Clubs bill that has passed through the Assembly.
Ms Armstrong said: “The legislation balances modernising liquor licensing rules with public health needs. As Deputy Chair for the Committee for Communities, I have been working with colleagues to update our Liquor licensing rules. The new legislation has completed all the Assembly stages and has now gone for Royal Assent that should be awarded before the end of this year.”
The changes coming forward are:
- Easter and Sunday hours are aligned with the trading hours operated for the rest of the year.
- All pubs and hotels can apply for a late licence up to 104 times per year.
- Late licences will now run for an additional hour,to 2am.
- Drinking up time has increased from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The extension to drinking up time will allow people to disperse over a longer period of time, with the aim to reduce issues for the police and public disorder.
- Children can remain with their family at an event after 9pm eg. at a wedding
- Children are permitted in a social club as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult from May to September and for a limited number of times over the winter months – for example to attend a sport’s awards ceremony
- Under-18s events, such as School formals, can run until 1am – as long as no alcohol is available in the venue or part of the venue where the event is taking place
- Cinemas are now recognised as part of the entertainment industry and can apply to sell alcohol should they wish to do so
- There is a new Local Producers Licence and a Taproom licence.
Kellie Armstrong added: “The local producers licence will allow our local artisan, craft brewers and distillers to sell their own produce in closed containers for consumption off the premises whether that is at the end of a brewery tour or at another venue such as a Farmers Market. Local producers will be permitted to allow people on a tour to have a sample.
“The Taproom licence is a separate additional licence that a local producer can add. It allows local producers who apply for a 52E licence to sell their own produce for consumption, in their premises up to 104 times per year, from 4pm to 10pm on those days.
“The legislation will require the Minister for Health to bring forward a minimum price per unit within 3 years. The Assembly has discussed brining in a minimum price for alcohol for some time. This legislation sets out a time frame for the Minister for Health to complete consultation and bring forward options.
“As part of committee scrutiny we met with PSNI, Health representatives, young people, hospitality sector, retail representative bodies, local producers and received many written responses to our consultation.
“The current licensing laws have been in place since 1996. They were due a review and update. I’m delighted the legislation has made it through the Assembly stages and will now go to the Queen for Royal Assent before it becomes law,” added Ms Armstrong.