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Government approves legislation to allow drinking outside pubs and restaurants

Gardaí warned earlier this month that certain outdoor drinking is technically illegal.

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NEW LEGISLATION HAS been approved today which will clarify the situation around outdoor drinking.

An incorporeal Cabinet meeting took place this evening which aimed to clarify the situation surrounding outdoor drinking.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said she received approval from Cabinet this evening surrounding the law. 

Humphreys said that, following a meeting with the Attorney General, a short piece of time-bound legislation will provide clarity to businesses, local authorities and gardaí.

The law will allow for the sale and consumption of alcohol in seated outdoor areas, including those authorised by local authorities or those privately owned adjacent to the licensed premises but not currently subject to a licence.

However, this will be subject to a number of conditions.

For those areas already given a permit by local authorities, these conditions would be the conditions already set by the local authority, such as on the number of customers allowed to be seated outside.

Details surrounding businesses which currently do not have a local authority permit will be explained tomorrow, Humphreys said.

Gardaí will also be given powers to enforce this new legislation. They will be able to direct a licensed premises owner to comply with the conditions on outdoor seated areas.

If that does not happen, a garda superintendent or higher has the power to issue an immediate closure order to close a premises for the remainder of the day.

For pubs and restaurants who are non-compliant on several occasions, gardaí can apply to the District Court for an emergency closure order, which can last up to three days

The Public Order Act will also apply to outdoor seated areas.

The provisions of this Bill will expire on 30 November unless renewed by the Oireachtas for a further period of six months.

Earlier this month, gardaí warned that alcohol licences are not valid for areas outside pubs and restaurants for which they were originally sought – such as new on-street dining sections.

They added that they would be using their “discretion” until a time when the Government can legislate for the changes.

The Garda guidance came after bars and restaurants across the country rolled out on-street service as part of the re-opening of the hospitality industry earlier this month.

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A number of local authorities have closed off streets or narrowed access to vehicular traffic in urban areas in order to allow venues to provide a more extensive outdoor service, with indoor hospitality not expected to return until next month.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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