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Government to examine reducing times for alcohol sales - Tánaiste

Leo Vardakar says the government is looking at measures around the sale of alcohol.

Current off-licence sale times are 10pm.
Current off-licence sale times are 10pm.
Image: Rollingnews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT IS considering banning the sale of alcohol after a certain time of day, the Tánaiste has said.

Leo Varadkar also said the government is working on new public health regulations to strengthen the law around drinking alcohol in public streets to give gardai more powers of enforcement.

His comments come after publicans were warned by the Taoiseach Micheal Martin to “forget about takeaway pints” as the Government introduced a raft of new public health restrictions yesterday.

A ban on the sale of takeaway alcohol was not among the measures.

Varadkar said the banning of takeaway pints was not straight-forward because it could result in a ban on takeaway alcohol for restaurants and off-licences.

“When it comes to selling takeaway alcohol, that’s not illegal – anybody who’s getting their takeaway … you can get your bottle of beer or bottle of wine with that, nobody wants to ban that,” Varadkar told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

“A lot of people are going to be relying on takeaways for the next couple of weeks.

But it seems that the publicans kind of get around this by serving a pint and putting a lid on it – and that’s not on.

Varadkar said the government was going to “further enforce the existing ban of people drinking outdoors in public streets”.

The Fine Gael leader added that the government was looking at other measures around the sale of alcohol.

“People say takeaway points are a problem; ban them. You can’t actually just do that. You’d have to ban all takeaway alcohol and that would create problems for restaurants and takeaways who really need that business now and also off-licences too,” the Tanaiste said.

So what we could potentially do is ban the sale of all alcohol after a certain point of time in the day. It is that type of thing that we’re looking at.

Cabinet signed off on new public health restrictions as a record 7,836 new cases were confirmed.

Schools are to close, most construction work will cease and new protocols on international travel were announced as part of the Government’s new measures.

Click and collect will be stopped for non-essential shops and owners of businesses such as pubs and restaurants have been warned that they may be closed until the end of March.

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Despite the Taoiseach’s appeal on Wednesday, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said all publicans must adhere to public health guidelines and laws but that takeaway sales of alcohol were still permitted.

The organisation, which represents 4,000 publicans, tweeted: “No change to guidelines despite what Micheál Martin says. All publicans must adhere to guidelines/laws but off sales are permitted.”

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Rónán Duffy

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