Modernisation of licensing laws ' a new opportunity for hospitality'
HOSPITALITY Ulster has welcomed changes to previously outdated liquor licensing legislation which now allow for alcohol to be served throughout the Easter holiday period.
This Easter marks the first time the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland will be able to properly take advantage of the new updated legislation, allowing businesses to remain open as normal during the holiday period.
Previously, licensed premises had limited hours for the sale of alcohol from Thursday to Sunday over the Easter weekend.
The changes means that permitted hours will be the same as every other weekend on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the Easter weekend with normal opening times and closing at 11pm and 1am for late license holders or with additional permitted hours, 2am.
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “This Easter has been one our sector has looked forward to for many years, free from the outdated licensing laws of the past, with opportunities to welcome more customers back following a very difficult two years.
“These changes to licensing hours will give customers more choice and provide the sector with the opportunity to trade when previously they couldn’t.”
Meanwhile all-island trade body Drinks Ireland, which represents 16 drinks companies in the north, has laid out a series of policy priorities ahead of the May 5 Assembly elections which call for enhanced investment to support exports from Northern Ireland drinks producers.
It has also called for enhanced north-south coordination and cooperation to regulate, protect and promote Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Poitín which have all-island Geographic Indications.
The body is also seeking ongoing engagement with the industry on potential reforms to the Planning Act (NI), with a view to providing an expedient and efficient system for the consideration of planning applications for industrial development.
Drinks Ireland director Patricia Callan said: “From producing the iconic, world-famous brands of Baileys and Bushmills to fostering a new wave of craft distilleries and breweries, Northern Ireland punches above its weight when it comes to drinks production.
“Exports from the sector are delivering for the economy, and it sustains jobs in communities across Northern Ireland. Additionally, as travel and tourism gears-up again following Covid, distilleries offer the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.”