Easter weekend pub opening times: Changes welcomed by industry body

This weekend will be the first Easter with updated licensing laws for pubs and clubs, meaning alcohol can be bought and sold as if it were any other weekend.

Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster 
Photo Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST 25/6/2020 Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster Photo Pacemaker Press

The Stormont Assembly passed legislation last year which means the permitted hours will be the same tonight, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, despite the religious significance of the dates in the Christian calendar.

Previously, the Easter weekend had been subject to strict opening hours that those in the hospitality industry say had curtailed trade in previous years.

The industry body Hospitality Ulster say the changes, made under the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2021, will be a “shot in the arm for the entire hospitality industry as it emerges from a protracted period of pandemic closure, previous research showed the sector lost millions of pounds during the Easter period under the previous legislative regime.”

A spokesperson for the organisation added: “The new laws, which Hospitality Ulster campaigned for over a decade, will mean local customers and tourists can enjoy a glass of wine with lunch on Good Friday, or a late night out over the long weekend across Northern Ireland.

“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 with normal opening times and closing at 11pm and 1am for late license holders or with additional permitted hours, 2am.”

Chief Executive Colin Neill said: “This Easter has been one the hospitality sector has looked forward to for many years, free from the outdated licensing laws of the past, with opportunities to welcome more customers back following a very difficult two years.”

He continued: “The changes to the licensing hours will give customers more choice and provide the sector with the opportunity to trade when previously they couldn’t.

“In years gone by, business owners have been at their wits end having to stay closed and shut early, losing millions in trade due to the restrictive laws of the past.”

Mr Neill added: “Following years of campaigning, it is a real boost for the sector to be able to bring families and friends together over a meal and a pint during the Easter holiday period. This Easter will allow our bars, restaurants and hotels to really showcase the very best of the hospitality offer. We look forward to welcoming many of customers back.”