Pub opening hours to be extended

ireland
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James Cox

Pubs are to see Sunday opening hours extended and nightclubs allowed stay open past 2.30am as part of the reform of licensing laws.

The changes are part of the justice reform plan due to be announced by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee tomorrow.

It will also see new categories for alcohol licences introduced for cultural venues like art galleries and theatres.

The new trading hours for pubs and clubs aim to bring a boost to the sector hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunday hours will move in line with the rest of the week, with pubs allowed to serve alcohol until 12.30am.

Chief executive of the Vintners Federation, Padraig Cribben, says the detail will be important.

Mr Cribben said: “There is also reference to theatres and cultural areas selling alcohol without the benefit of a normal licence, that is certainly something we would have to see detail on because where these kinds of outlets are given an inch, they take a mile.”

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He added: “There is very little appetite to implement laws in relation to registered clubs or where you have outlets like restaurants flouting the legislation.”

Mid-summer

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it would be mid-summer at the earliest before the hospitality sector reopens.

Mr Martin said: “We don’t foresee that (reopening pubs etc) before the middle of the summer.

“What the public health authorities are saying is that we stick with this until end of April, then we reflect on the situation and make decisions about the months ahead.”

He also told RTÉ that reopening the country will be a slow process.

“There won’t be much of a change (after this phase) because the numbers are still too high,” he said.

“What we intend is to reopen schools gradually, it will be slow, we’ll be cautious, because we have to monitor the effect on the virus.

“The biggest challenge we face is new variants as they could impact the vaccines.

“It’s sensible to open slowly, as the vaccines are coming.”

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