UK government plans to extend pub hours for royal wedding

The UK Government has announced plans to extend pub opening hours over the weekend of the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle in May as it begins a four-week consultation into the event’s celebratory arrangements.

Under Section 172 of the Licensing Act, hours have previously been extended for occasions of national significance including the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, and the World Cup in 2014.

This morning the government launched a public consultation on plans to extend licensing hours on the nights of Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May until 1am the following morning to premises in England and Wales, which are not normally licensed until 1am, over the weekend of the upcoming Royal Wedding.

It follows calls from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) to extend hours, asserting that it could give a £10 million boost to the trade.

“Since the Act was introduced in 2005, we have had extended hours for the last Royal Wedding, for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the World Cup,” said chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds.

“For the first two, extended hours were granted on the relevant Friday and Saturday until 1am and we believe that it would be appropriate for pubs to be allowed extended hours on Friday 18th May and Saturday 19th May. Both extensions would be until 1am the following morning.”

Despite the Royal Wedding coinciding with the FA Cup final, Simmonds reiterated that there has been no reports of increased disorder as a result of previous extensions to licensing hours, including the extension for the weekend of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, which coincided with 2 Euro 2016 matches involving England and Wales, and the extension of licensing hours during the World Cup 2014.

“By our best estimates, beer sales increased by at least 5% and food sales were up by 8% as a result,” she added. “This equates to a £10 million boost to the pub sector and there is of course a ‘feel good factor’ for the nation on this weekend and what better place to encourage local support than in the Great British Pub.”

The four-week public consultation will give the public the opportunity to submit their views on the proposals. The government will also seek the views of specific stakeholders, including the police, licensing authorities and alcohol awareness groups.

“The Royal Wedding will be a time of national celebration, and we want everyone to be able to make the most of such an historic occasion,” added home secretary Amber Rudd.

“I hope that this relaxation of the licensing hours will allow people to extend their festivities and come together to mark what will be a very special moment for the country.”

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