LIQUOR LICENSING 

Licensing Beer Gardens and Other Outside Areas - Protecting Your Space Now and For The Future

In response to the many challenges presented to the hospitality sector by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many pubs and other licensed businesses have been looking at ways to maximise their outside space.

Pubs, hotels and restaurants throughout the country have been doing all they can to keep trading and understandably have been using outside areas to increase capacity.

However, this is at times happening without the necessary steps having been taken to protect their liquor licences.

To date, the PSNI appears to have been taking a sympathetic approach to this practice, but we are aware of police licensing officers starting to contact and engage with publicans and other stakeholders to make clear that they will not tolerate illegal trading indefinitely.

One avenue to consider is the Pavement Cafes legislation, which allows a business to apply to the local council for temporary permission to use an adjacent public space (e.g. public footpaths) for tables and chairs. This means customers can be served in an open air setting, in keeping with current trading restrictions.

A more permanent solution is available to those businesses that have, for example, a rear yard or other outside space within the boundaries of their own premises. A beer garden, outside smoking area or similar can be permanently licensed for serving customers, via an application to the county court.

To protect the validity of licences and to avoid the forced closure of vital outside areas, business owners should act now to put in place all necessary permissions.

For a cost free discussion of the licensing process, please contact John Finnegan at Millar McCall Wylie on 02890 200050 or by email at john.finnegan@mmwlegal.com.

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