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Pubs and bars warned not to take ‘unnecessary’ risks when reopening this week

Licensed premises will be permitted to serve alcohol outside.

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Solicitor Christopher Bullock has urged pubs and bars not take risks with their licences in the short term. Picture supplied by Aiken.

Solicitor Christopher Bullock has urged pubs and bars not take risks with their licences in the short term. Picture supplied by Aiken.

Solicitor Christopher Bullock has urged pubs and bars not take risks with their licences in the short term. Picture supplied by Aiken.

Outdoor pubs and restaurants have been warned not to take “unmitigated risks” when they re-open this week as it could hinder the renewal of their licences.

Licensed and unlicensed premises, including pubs and restaurants, are reopening their doors to the public this Friday in an outdoor capacity only.

Licensed premises will be permitted to serve alcohol outside only in accordance with the Executive’s current guidelines.

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A man walks past Deanes Deli in Belfast during Northern Ireland’s national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (Liam McBurney/PA)

A man walks past Deanes Deli in Belfast during Northern Ireland’s national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

A man walks past Deanes Deli in Belfast during Northern Ireland’s national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (Liam McBurney/PA)

A Belfast licensing lawyer has said that next year is a key date for hospitality outlets, as over 1,800 liquor licences across Northern Ireland are up for renewal.

Solicitor Christopher Bullock said that it is an event which only happens every five years, and urged pubs and bars not to take risks with their licences in the short term.

The call comes as Belfast City Council representatives and the PSNI have been liaising with city publicans to ensure they are abiding by the stringent guidelines set out by the Northern Ireland Executive.

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Mr Bullock, from O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors, said: “Covid-19 may well have permanently changed how we go to the pub or restaurant and while operators are keen to get back up and running this weekend, they must not adversely impact the long-term viability of their licence by taking unnecessary risks when re-opening.

The process and timing of re-opening has been particularly difficult on the trade with little information forthcoming.Christopher Bullock

“Under the current restrictions only those venues with adequate and suitable outdoor space are permitted to reopen and while outlets will want to maximise this opportunity after months without trading, selling alcohol in unlicensed beer gardens or outdoor areas or carrying out alterations to the premises without court consent could jeopardise their licence in the long term.

“The process and timing of re-opening has been particularly difficult on the trade with little information forthcoming and businesses have had to adapt quickly to what the latest guidelines mean.

“I would urge all statutory authorities to work closely with and support the trade to ensure they can open in line with regulations.

“This will help to protect licence renewals which are due in 2022 and also support the long-term vibrancy of an industry that is crucial to the Northern Ireland economy.”


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