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'Wet pubs' reopen amid calls for north-south alignment on closing time

Around 600 'wet pubs' in the north can reopen from Wednesday.
Ryan McAleer

'WET pubs' due to reopen in the north on Wednesday should align their closing time to premises across the border, Hospitality Ulster has said.

Around 600 pubs that do not serve food can finally open from September 23, after the Executive twice pushed back the date.

It comes a day after additional restrictions limiting domestic gatherings were imposed in the region aimed at curbing spiralling infection rates of coronavirus.

Pubs that serve food have been permitted to trade since the start of July. 

New restrictions in England and Wales will see pubs and restaurants begin closing from 10pm on Thursday.

Stormont ministers are expected to discuss additional restrictions for pubs in Northern Ireland later this week.

Drink only pubs in the Republic are currently allowed to stay open until 11.30pm.

Hospitality Ulster’s chief executive, Colin Neill, said if the Executive moves to close premises early, then “to avoid confusion and for parity", pubs in the north should have the same closing time as those in the Republic.

He also warned that a complete ban on live music will have a severe impact on the music industry and drive people to house parties.

“In partnership with the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation, we had put forward proposals that we believed could safely deliver live acoustic music in public areas, along with risk assessed amplified live music for private functions and ticketed performances,” said Mr Neill.

“We will continue to engage on this issue in the coming days and weeks and support the calls made by the Music Venue Trust.

“With additional restrictions comes the need for additional support. The proposal to ban live music will have a severe financial impact and is ultimately likely to encourage more people to party in houses.”

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