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Lockdown drinking at Belfast airports could take off as exemption means pubs at terminals can serve booze


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Sip & Stone at Belfast International Airport

Sip & Stone at Belfast International Airport

Assistant manger at the Harfeild Bar in Belfast Caolan McGurk holds two freshly poured pints of Guinness, stands at the Pintman pump. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Assistant manger at the Harfeild Bar in Belfast Caolan McGurk holds two freshly poured pints of Guinness, stands at the Pintman pump. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Sip & Stone at Belfast International Airport

WHILE bars across the country were forced to close at 6pm on Friday evening, there are still pubs here where punters can legally get a freshly pulled pint.

For the latest regulations provide an exemption for selling alcohol in airport pubs.

One such outlet continuing to pull the pints is the Sip and Stone pub at Belfast International Airport.

One lucky punter, Ryan Hoey, spoke to Sunday Life about his joy at being able to have one last Guinness in the pub on Friday evening, before flying to Manchester for a last-minute wedding.

"It was 7pm and I could see loads of people sat with pints. I wondered, 'Have they really been nursing that pint for the last hour, or have they just ordered it?" Ryan said.

"I sat down, went on the app and ordered it," Ryan added, not being put off by the exorbitant price of a chicken burger, chips and a pint for £20.

"It seems weird they're allowed to open," Ryan continued, "but at the same time, going through the airport, the least social contact I'm going to have is when I'm sat down at the restaurant in the airport.

"It wouldn't make sense to say that you can't sit at the restaurant at the airport and then you're crammed next to someone on the plane."

However, getting a pint is not as easy as walking into the airport and finding a table at the pub. Only those with a boarding pass to get through security control are able to have a drink.

Confusion reigned on Friday night, with the legislation for the latest coronavirus regulations not being made until 10.30pm that evening, despite outlets being forced to close at 6pm.

In the legislation, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (Amendment No.9) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, there is an exemption for hospitality outlets in airports.

A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport confirmed that hospitality facilities within the terminal were exempt from the latest closures.

They added in a statement: "Sip and Stone and Starbucks continue to remain open with the necessary social distancing and cleaning procedures in place."

SSP The FoodTravel Experts, which runs Sip and Stone and the Starbucks branch, declined to provide a statement to Sunday Life, instead providing a link to the legislation that allows them to continue operating their outlets at the airport.

The Executive Office was contacted about why such an exemption exists, but no one was available for comment.

Elsewhere, with the hospitality industry facing severe restrictions as of Friday evening, many pubs, cafes and restaurants have reverted to delivery and takeaway services which found popularity during the first lockdown earlier this year.

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Assistant manger at the Harfeild Bar in Belfast Caolan McGurk holds two freshly poured pints of Guinness, stands at the Pintman pump. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Assistant manger at the Harfeild Bar in Belfast Caolan McGurk holds two freshly poured pints of Guinness, stands at the Pintman pump. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Assistant manger at the Harfeild Bar in Belfast Caolan McGurk holds two freshly poured pints of Guinness, stands at the Pintman pump. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

The Hatfield Bar in south Belfast has relaunched its pint delivery service (above) which hit the headlines earlier this year following a dispute with the PSNI.

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