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Northern Ireland introduces 11pm curfew for pubs and restaurants

29 September 2020 by
Northern Ireland introduces 11pm curfew for pubs and restaurants

Northern Ireland will enforce an 11pm curfew for all hospitality businesses from midnight tomorrow (Wednesday 30 September).

New rules state that no alcohol or food can be served after 10:30pm and all customers must leave a premises by 11pm. The curfew applies across non-licensed premises as well as hotels and guesthouse bars.

First minister Arlene Foster had delayed the announcement, originally expected on Thursday evening, to provide "concrete, clear, no-ambiguity" guidelines.

It is understood that imposing a curfew earlier than 11pm would have required changing legislation around licensing laws.

Commenting on today's announcement, Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said the curfew and other restrictions must be kept under "continuous review".

He added: "If a curfew is necessary, it is important that it is set at a time that allows the hospitality sector to be sustainable after being so badly damaged by the Covid lockdown.

"We welcome the fact that the earlier time of 10pm has been dismissed, but 11pm still means that doors have to be shut by that time."

The hospitality sector in Northern Ireland had made an emotional plea to the decision makers in the NI Executive to encourage them to choose a closing time of 11.30pm if a curfew was to be imposed.

Neill said that many in the sector had been "really nervous" about a curfew that was anything more restrictive than an 11.30pm benchmark.

He explained that the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland was made up of small businesses and had a different culture that saw people coming out later than in the other nations.

He said: "We also share a physical land border with the Republic of Ireland and many will lose out on trade that will disappear across the border."

"This already has been an extremely difficult six months, so why would our locally elected politicians compound the situation by bringing forward a problem we could do without?"

In August pub operators in Northern Ireland described a delay to reopen the sector as a "catastrophic blow".

The announcement follows the introduction of a 10pm curfew across England that came into force at the end of last week.

Image: Shutterstock

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