A law that will ’future-proof’ the island’s social life has been given initial approval by the Legislative Council.
The Liquor Licensing and Public Entertainments Bill will replace and update current licensing laws.
It has already been through the House of Keys - where a number of amendments were made - and on Tuesday the legislation was placed before MLCs for consideration.
She said: ’These changes to legislation bring our island’s licensed hospitality industry and the wider public entertainments sector up to the minute.’
The bill would ’help to future-proof the success and sustainability of our island’s social life’.
She said consultation had demonstrated a ’responsive’ licensing regime was needed and enabling legislation would best meet that.
’The pandemic highlighted how quickly need changes and how pivotal it is that we build responsiveness into legislation for what is fundamentally a service industry,’ she said.
The bill has seven core licensing objectives: public safety, preventing crime and disorder, preventing public nuisance, protecting and improving public health, protection for children, providing an environment in which the hospitality industry can thrive and promoting high standards across the industry.
It contains provision for the government to set minimum prices for alcohol.
It will also give the Department of Home Affairs the power to form an independent licensing authority. Under the proposed law the current structure of the licensing court could be maintained or a ’hybrid model’ brought in, where some responsibilities would be transferred to the new authority.
Miss August-Hanson said any regime change ’would not be a decision taken lightly’ and would be preceded with further engagement with the industry.
Any change would retain the possibility of judicial appeal.
The legislation introduces a new offence of assault on staff on licensed premises.
Another part of the bill addresses restrictive covenants, such as those sometimes placed on former licensed premises preventing them from operating as a licensed premises again under new ownership.
The bill would mean an end to such covenants in future, but it had been decided not to attempt to apply that retrospectively to previous agreements.
Legislative Council members granted the bill a first reading last week, but it will face more detailed scrutiny in the coming weeks.
Miss August-Hanson said: ’The support for this bill from key stakeholders, the general public and the island’s government has been quite immense and these changes are very much welcomed by the licensed hospitality industry and the wider public as has been demonstrated by the response to the consultation.’