Pubs in Northern Ireland will be able to sell alcohol until 2am under Stormont proposals

Pubs in Northern Ireland will be able to sell alcohol until 2am under Stormont proposals

Customers would be given an hour to finish their drinks, meaning premises will be able to operate until 3am at weekends.

Pubs and nightclubs will be able to sell alcohol for an extra hour in Northern Ireland under proposals published by Stormont.

The 2am closure would apply many Fridays and Saturdays.

Customers would be given an hour to finish their drinks, meaning premises will be able to operate until 3am at weekends.

Restrictions around Easter drinking will also be relaxed.

Communities Minister, Caral Ni Chuilin said: “I believe these proposals represent a balanced package of measures aimed at tackling alcohol misuse and promoting responsible consumption, whilst providing vital support for the hospitality industry.

“This support is needed now more than ever as the industry begins its recovery from Covid-19.”

The changes will also enable local drinks producers to sell their products directly to the public in limited circumstances, make changes to the law affecting registered private clubs and allow changes to permitted hours at major events, such as last year’s Open golf championship.

The amendments will also include new restrictions on advertising of alcoholic drinks and introduce a statutory code of practice on responsible retailing.

The proposals will be included in a Bill which will be taken through the legislative process in the Assembly before becoming law.

Pubs have been shuttered for months following restrictions designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Colin Neill said it was the most significant change to licensing laws in a generation (Peter Morrison/PA)

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said it was the most significant change to licensing laws in a generation and an important development at a time when the industry is facing significant challenges from coronavirus.

He said: “Prior to coronavirus, despite being a £2 billion a year industry and the backbone of the tourism offer, the growth potential of the hospitality sector was being curtailed by the outdated legislation.

“As we look to rebuild the hospitality sector here after coronavirus, it is imperative that businesses have all the tools necessary to thrive.

“Despite the undoubted challenges ahead, this updated legislation would be a welcome boost for hospitality businesses right across Northern Ireland.”

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