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Legislation that allows drinking outside pubs and restaurants extended to May

From today, alcohol cannot be sold or consumed after 11pm in certain outdoor seating areas.

The regulation does not apply to the trading hours that are already in place in authorised outdoor seating areas, such beer gardens, which already fall within the license agreement of a pub.
The regulation does not apply to the trading hours that are already in place in authorised outdoor seating areas, such beer gardens, which already fall within the license agreement of a pub.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE LEGISLATION THAT allows for the sale and consumption of alcohol in seated outdoor areas has been extended until May 2022.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys moved to clarify the operation of outdoor seating areas as licensed premises return to full trading hours from today.

Earlier this year, the minister brought in legislation to allow for outdoor seating areas to operate lawfully, after a number of pubs in Galway were warned by gardaí that alcohol could not be served outside their premises.

Due to the restrictions on indoor dining over the last year, many pubs and restaurants were forced to use public space – such as car parking spaces and paths – for outdoor dining, while other businesses used their own land, such as a pub car park, seating outside.

At the time, Humphreys said the legislation was needed so as to provide clarity to business owners who were adhering to the government’s message of an “outdoor summer”.

The legislation is due to expire on 30 November, but in light of some restrictions remaining for the hospitality sector, an be extension of six months has been introduced.

The law allows for outdoor seating areas, that have been permitted by the relevant local authority on public land, such as a path next to licensed premises, to be used by customers consuming food or alcohol outside.

It also covers the use of privately owned land adjacent to the licensed premises being used for seating – though this land would not have originally been included for use in the licence agreement with their local authority.

Given the emergency nature of the legislation introduced earlier this year, and with trading hours returning to normal, the minister has decided that it is appropriate to regulate the opening hours of such outdoor seating areas.

From today, alcohol cannot be sold or consumed after 11 pm in these outdoor seating areas.

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

Humphreys said the time restriction of 11pm is being done in the interests of communities and with the principles of fairness. 

The minister said the regulation does not apply to the trading hours that are already in place in authorised outdoor seating areas, such beer gardens, which already fall within the license of a pub.

Speaking about the regulations, Humphreys said:

“I brought in emergency legislation to allow for outdoor seating areas to operate lawfully. This Act remains in place until 30 November 2021, but can be extended for up to 6 months at a time, with a positive resolution of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“We want to ensure there is certainty for business and work is underway to proceed with an extension.

“As trading hours return to normal in line with the easing of certain Covid restrictions, I have introduced a pragmatic regulation for outdoor seating areas for private land abutting the licensed premises that are covered by the emergency legislation.

“This sets out that alcohol cannot be sold or consumed any day after 11 pm in the private land outdoor seating areas which benefit from the emergency legislation.

“This is in line with similar trading hour restrictions on the outdoor seating areas authorised by local authorities. It does not impact the trading hours attached to outdoor areas that are within the existing licensing arrangement as part of the licensed premises.”

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This week, the government extended the use of the Covid Pass for restaurants and pubs. 

The legislation for the Covid Pass was extended into January by the Dáil a number of weeks ago.

To access indoor service such as restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, you must show proof that you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months. 

Customers can use their EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) or their HSE vaccination record as proof.

The Covid Pass is not required for those seated outside.

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