This Easter marks the first time that the hospitality sector here in Northern Ireland will be able to properly take advantage of the new updated legislation, allowing hospitality businesses to remain open as normal during the Easter bank holiday period.
Previously, licensed premises had limited hours for the sale of alcohol from Thursday to Sunday over the Easter weekend.
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.
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.
Highlighiting the ‘very difficult two years’ the local industry has experienced, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, said: “This Easter has been one the hospitality sector has looked forward to for many years, free from the outdated licensing laws of the past, with opportunities to welcome more customers back following a very difficult two years.
“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.
“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 this weekend.”