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Government will look into whether to allow restaurants to stay open till 12.30am on New Year's Eve

Under the current rules, restaurants must close by 11.30pm.

GOVERNMENT WILL LOOK into whether it is feasible to allow restaurants to stay open till 12.30am on New Year’s Eve.

Restaurant owners want to be allowed to remain open an extra hour on the night, stating that it is better to have people meeting up in a regulated environment rather than gathering in house parties. 

Currently, restaurants and pubs that serve food have to close by 11.30pm and have customers off the premises by that time. 

It is understood that government will look into whether an hour extension could be granted for one day only.

However, there are concerns that it could prove cumbersome as it would mean new regulations would need to be signed for just one day.

CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins told Newstalk this evening that if the hours are not extended it could result in street parties, or house parties, as people would have to leave restaurants before the count down.

He said a 12.30am closing time, with customers off the premises by that time, allows diners to stay within their group, and avoids the scenario where people might leave and go to someone’s house and mingle with others for the countdown celebrations. 

It is understood that those in government circles are concerned that this could be the case if the rules are not modified for New Year’s Eve.

Cummins said the industry wants to help government by giving people a regulated environment in which to ring in 2021 safely.

He said those in the sector need to plan if they are to be allowed to open one hour later, and called for clarity on whatever decision government reaches. 

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