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Longer opening hours for nightclubs and changes to alcohol licensing under plan by Justice Minister

Minister Helen McEntee is set to unveil the plans later this week.

EXTENDED OPENING HOURS for nightclubs and changes to licensing look set to come into effect, with a sweeping modernisation of Irish licensing laws by Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

The plans are part of a government effort to revitalise nightlife after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed.

Minister McEntee is to outline the changes as part of the Justice Plan 2021, which will be unveiled this week.

One element of the plans is the staggering and extending opening hours for nightclubs and late bars, something the industry has consistently argued for.

Currently, nightclubs and late bars need to obtain a Special Exemption Order from the District Court under the pretence that a special event is taking place.

Licensing laws are also looking at changes, including efforts to streamline the process for premises’ to obtain a licence to sell alcohol.

Other changes, like catering licences for catering companies, could be looked at in the future.

Minister McEntee said that social institutions like pubs are an “intrinsic part of our social fabric”, but have been hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As we plan how our economy and society will look after the pandemic, I also believe we need to broaden the range of cultural offerings available in the night-time economy,” said the Minister.

We must make it easier for venues, galleries, exhibition spaces and ‘pop-up’ events to thrive and ensure we have a vibrant and safe night-time economy.

It comes after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said yesterday that it was unlikely for pubs and restaurants to reopen until the middle of the summer.

“We don’t foresee that [reopening pubs] before the middle of the summer,” said Martin.

“What the public health authorities are saying is that we stick with this until end of April, then we reflect on the situation and make decisions about the months ahead.” 

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