Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District today (Friday, July 2) welcomed the long-awaited reform of liquor licensing laws, after a bill passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Destination CQ BID Manager, Damien Corr, said the changes within the Liquor Licensing Bill represent a significant step forward, after years of pressing for reform.
“For more than a decade there has been a relentless campaign to remove antiquated licensing laws,” he said.
As Belfast and the CQ quite rightly positions itself as a modern vibrant city, these new arrangements are a step change in enabling us to meet visitor expectations and should see a healthy increase in footfall and dwell time.”
The new laws, which will come into force in October of this year will extend closing time to 2am, with an additional hour of ‘drinking’ up time, for 104 nights each year. Opening hours on Sundays will be the same as any other day of the week.
Easter restrictions on sale of alcohol have been removed, and there is set to be flexibility on opening hours at major events.
“The changes couldn’t have come at a better time for our hospitality sector who have taken a big hit since March 2020,” said Damien.
“Cathedral Quarter, and the other BID’s in the city worked hard to get Purple Flag status for Belfast to enhance our night time economy.
“These changes mean we can work over coming months to support the sector in advance of the new laws coming into force.
“With the new student campus coming soon at the Ulster University, and the associated accommodation we anticipate that Cathedral Quarter and its businesses will continue to thrive and grow.
“We will work with partner agencies as we look forward to these welcome changes.”
Mr Corr added that restrictions around self-service alcohol point of sale, restrictions on off-sales promotions and banning loyalty schemes represent a balance to protect vulnerable people.
For more information on the specifics of the bill go to communities-ni.gov.uk/news