Gardaí to 'use discretion' over outdoor seating areas not covered by licensing laws

Gardaí to 'use discretion' over outdoor seating areas not covered by licensing laws

In a statement, gardaí say that despite permission being granted by local authorities, these spaces are not covered for alcohol consumption by the licence issued by the District Court.

The justice minister said gardaí are to "use their discretion" in relation to alcohol consumption in newly added seating areas outside of bars and restaurants which are not covered by licencing laws.

In a tweet, Heather Humphreys said gardaí are "working to ensure we can enjoy an outdoor summer and that the vast majority of licensed premises are acting responsibly."

She said they will engage with licensed premises and "use their discretion as they have done throughout Covid."

Earlier, gardaí said pubs and restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol in recently set-up seating areas outside premises as they are not permitted under licensing laws.

While local councils across Ireland have granted permission for licensed premises to set up temporary seating areas on the streets, gardaí say they are restricted to selling takeaway alcohol or "for consumption off the premises".

In a statement, gardaí say that despite permission being granted by local authorities, these spaces are not covered for alcohol consumption by the licence issued by the District Court.

“The application for a licence to sell alcohol is accompanied by the lodgement of inter alia a site plan highlighting the specified area to which the licence will apply," a garda spokesperson said.

“The licensee is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor to a person to consume the alcohol within that highlighted area only, any other sales are on a takeaway basis only.” 

They added: “Local authorities may provide permission for additional seating space outside of licensed premises, but these spaces are not covered for the consumption of alcohol by the licence issued by the District Court."

Due to continued Covid restrictions, indoor drinking and dining has not yet reopened and will remain prohibited until July 5.

Under current public health guidelines, up to six people can gather at a single table for outdoor drinks or dining at a restaurant or pub.

Gardaí have said that management of local public spaces is primarily a matter for the relevant local authorities. 

The statement from An Garda Síochána says that local authorities in many areas have passed by-laws that restrict alcohol consumption in public places.

“As public health regulations continue to be reduced and activity begins to normalise An Garda Síochána continues to remind the public of the ongoing public health guidelines, which include not to gather in large groups, maintain social distancing and wearing of face coverings in crowded public spaces," gardaí have said.

They added: "Where crowds gather An Garda Síochána responsibility is preserving public order and preventing and investigating any criminal offence which occurs."

Gardaí say the "vast majority" of licensed premises have acted responsibly throughout the pandemic and that continues to be the case.

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