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Extended Legislation For Pub & Restaurant Outdoor Seating Areas

Regulations to clarify outdoor seating hours, as normal trading hours resume.

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

Earlier this year, Minister Humphreys brought in legislation to allow relevant outdoor seating areas to operate lawfully. This legislation is due to expire on November 30th 2021, but can be extended for six months and Minister Humphreys has announced her intention to introduce such an extension.

Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2021 introduced changes to allow for the sale and consumption of alcohol in relevant outdoor seating areas.

This applied where those 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, such as an abutting yard, as provided for in the Act.

These outdoor areas, by virtue of the Act, were subject to the same trading hours as applied to the licenced premises itself – which, until now, have been Covid restricted trading hours. From today, however, the restricted hours no longer apply and normal trading resumes.

The Minister is conscious the extension of the licensed premises to private land outdoor seating areas was not made in the application for the licensed premises.

Given the emergency nature of the legislation introduced earlier this year, and with trading hours returning to normal, Minister Humphreys therefore considers it appropriate to regulate the opening hours of outdoor seating areas which operate on private land abutting the licenced premises.

This is being done in the interests of communities and with the principles of fairness. The Department has been in contact with industry groups to inform them of these measures.

The regulation sets out that alcohol cannot be sold or consumed any day after 11 p.m. in the outdoor seating areas on private land abutting a licenced premises. The regulation will come into effect today, 22 October 2021.

This regulation is not intended to apply to:

The trading hours permitted by local authorities for the authorised outdoor seating areas in public lands. The emergency legislation of last summer already provides for the adherence to the conditions of the permits granted by the local authorities (which include restrictions on trading hours).

The existing conditions for trading hours attached to the licensed premises, which already includes an outdoor area within that license, and where such areas are not benefitting from the emergency Act.

Minister Humphreys stated:

“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 11:00 p.m. 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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