The North’s hospitality sector will be able to serve alcohol during normal opening hours over the Easter weekend for the first time since new legislation was passed last year.
Previously, licensed premises had limited hours for the sale of alcohol from Thursday to Sunday over the Easter weekend.
Hospitality Ulster, which represents the sector, described the changes as “a shot in the arm” for the industry, as it emerged from a protracted period of closure due to the pandemic.
The changes to the licensing laws means that permitted hours will be the same as every other weekend on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the Easter weekend.
There will be normal opening times, and closing times at 11pm and 1am (for late-licence holders). Some premises will also be able to open until 2am.
Colin Neill (chief executive of Hospitality Ulster) said: “This Easter has been one the hospitality sector has looked forward to for many years, free from the outdated licensing laws of the past, with opportunities to welcome more customers back following a very difficult two years.”
The Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill, passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly last June, was the first major change to Northern Ireland's licensing laws since 1996.
Described by the minister in charge of the bill, Deirdre Hargey, as a significant "modernising step", the bill brought many of the North’s rules on alcohol sales in line with those in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.