The night-time economy took a massive blow during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Between lockdowns and capacity limits, licence holders have struggled. The silver lining, however, has been the spotlight placed on these concerns and, more importantly, the decisive action which followed.
The overhauls in licensing law are spurred on by The Night-Time Economy Taskforce Report, published in 2021.
September’s budget saw the reduction by half of both the court fee and excise duty associated with an application for a Special Exemption Order. Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, believes the current licensing laws are in need of serious reform. Notwithstanding the reduced fees for Special Exemption Order applications, McEntee has published the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill which includes the replacement of such applications with an annual permit. The permit will be applied for merely once a year, rather than the current system of monthly applications, and will allow for late openings year-round.
This week, the Cabinet has further committed to providing supports to business owners and has agreed the outline of legislation which would standardise pub opening hours across the week: 10.30 am to 12.30 am, seven days a week, with nightclubs being given the green light to stay open until 6 am. Late bars will be permitted to remain open until 02.30 am. Those businesses who wish to avail of the proposed changes, which will come into effect if the legislation is passed by the Oireachtas, will not exist in a vacuum. Minister Catherine Martin announced that nine towns and cities have been selected as pilot locations in which ‘Night-Time Economy Advisors’ will be recruited to work with the community, including businesses and residents, to support a vibrant night-time economy. Plans include the development of grants to enable the soundproofing of late-night venues, for which a budget of €2 million was allocated, maximising the benefits for both businesses and the surrounding community.
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