News & Insights: Licensing

Easter Opening Hours

14 March 2023

With around six short weeks to Easter (Sunday 9th April 2023), now is a good time to review the recent changes made to licencing laws and in particular permitted trading hours which will be in place during the Easter holiday period in Northern Ireland.
Given that the upcoming Easter holidays will be only the second time in which the new legislation is in operation, licenced premises should bear in mind the new, more relaxed rules relating to the sale of alcohol when preparing for business over the next few weeks. The relaxation of the regulations should assist traders with the sale and promotion of their businesses, during a time when those visiting Northern Ireland are increased.
Prior to the enactment of the Licensing and Regulation of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2021, the Easter holiday period had been subject to strict regulations regarding the sale and supply of alcohol. Alcohol could only be sold during limited hours. Specifically, licenced premises were prohibited from selling alcohol after midnight on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, and after 10pm on Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, licenced premises were only permitted to sell alcohol between the hours of 5pm and 11pm.
Following a relaxation of licensing laws in the Republic of Ireland, and under the new legislation, these restrictions were removed in their entirety allowing licenced premises to sell alcohol at the same time as they do throughout the rest of the year. Section 1 of the Act provides for the removal of addition restrictions at Easter. Effectively, this means that the hours during which licenced premises can sell alcohol, throughout the Easter holiday period, is now the same as any other time of the year.
As a result of these amendments, licenced premises with a late licence can now sell alcohol until 1am over the Easter holiday period. For those premises, with the benefit of additional permitted hours, the time limit for selling alcohol is 2am.
With many visitors and tourists coming to Northern Ireland over the Easter break, the updated licensing laws mean that all premises trading on these dates have the opportunity to generate increased revenue during a busy time of year.
Should you have any licencing queries please contact the Licensing Team at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors. Mr Seamus McGranaghan can be contacted by email or Tel: 028 9032 1000.

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