Legislation introduced earlier this year to clear up the rules covering how outdoor seating areas used by the hospitality sector should operate is to be extended for six months.
The decision, announced by the Minister for Justice Heather Humphrey, comes as bars and restaurants return to normal trading hours from today (22 October).
The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 brought in changes that allowed the sale and consumption of alcohol in relevant outdoor seating areas.
It had been due to expire on 30 November, but the minister has now decided to trigger an option to extend the legislation by six months.
The act 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.
The regulation, which comes into effect today (22 October), sets out that alcohol cannot be sold or consumed any day after 11pm in those outdoor seating areas on private land abutting a licensed premises.
Minister Humphreys described this as “a pragmatic regulation”, adding that it was in line with similar trading 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,” the minister stressed.
The Department of Justice says that the regulation is not intended to apply to:
- The trading hours permitted by local authorities for the authorised outdoor seating areas in public lands, which are covered by the permits granted by the local authority,
- The existing conditions for trading hours attached to the licensed premises, which already includes an outdoor area within that licence, and where such areas are not benefitting from the emergency act.