Most significant changes to NI licensing laws in 25 years to be phased in from tomorrow
The first changes from legislation delivering the most significant update to liquor licensing laws in Northern Ireland since 1996 will come into effect from tomorrow.
The Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 will be commenced in phases over the next few years, beginning with provisions extending opening and drinking-up times.
From tomorrow, pubs and hotels can apply to open until 2am up to 104 nights per year, and smaller pubs and registered clubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year. Drinking-up time will be increased to one hour.
All additional restrictions on opening hours over Easter weekend will be removed, as well as restrictions on late opening on Sunday. Licensed race tracks will be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays for the first time.
Communities minister Deirdre Hargey said: “I was pleased to be able to deliver this new legislation. The next step is to ensure it is successfully brought in to operation. From 1 October, the first changes of the major reforms I have delivered will become a reality.
“This first phase will see restrictions on Easter opening being lifted meaning Easter weekend next year will be the same as any other weekend throughout the year.
“It includes pub and hotel licence holders being able to apply for later opening, providing them with more flexibility, particularly in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year.
“It will also see drinking-up time increased from 30 minutes to one hour which will support a more gradual dispersal of people from licensed premises.”
She added: “My Department will continue to engage with stakeholders to bring the remaining provisions of this reform into operation. Most of the remaining provisions will come in to effect in April 2022 with some others requiring a slightly longer period.”