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Legislation that allows drinking outside pubs and restaurants extended to November

The legislation was first introduced to help the hospitality sector during Covid.

Image: Sam Boal

THE CONSUMPTION OF alcohol in outdoor seating areas will continue to be allowed under the extension of laws due to be signed off by Cabinet today. 

The Government was forced to clarify the situation around outdoor drinking during Covid restrictions last year.

New laws were introduced to deal with on-street service by pubs and restaurants which were not covered by alcohol licences.

At the time, a number of pubs were warned by gardaí that alcohol could not be served outside their premises.

Justice Minister McEntee will today bring a memo to Cabinet to further extend legislation for pub and restaurant outdoor seating areas as the hospitality industry enters the summer season.

She will ask for a six month extension to the legislation, which is due to lapse on 31 May. 

The extension to the legislation will now cease at the end of November.

While the legislation was first introduced to assist the hospitality sector during Covid, the minister believes that extending its provisions will support the industry as it continues to recover from the pandemic.

The legislation applies where outdoor seating areas have been permitted by the relevant local authority on public land, such as a path, or where they are on private land abutting the licensed premises, such as an abutting yard.

This law does not cover the likes of beer gardens that have been in use prior to the pandemic, and that are subject to the original licence agreement for a pub or restaurant.

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It only applies to the land that businesses began to use during Covid restrictions as an emergency measure over the last year.

It is the minister’s intention to bring forward a longer term solution as part of her wider reforms of licencing law.

McEntee plans to bring a General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill to Government before the summer recess, with a view to introducing later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs by the end of the year. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the ambition is that Ireland will have a nightlife “that is as good as anything” places like Lisbon, Berlin and London have to offer. 

The idea of later opening hours for nightclubs was first floated by Varadkar back in 2019, when he told The Journal that he believed the laws needed to be reformed and brought more in line with other cities in Europe. 

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