News

Special events gain expanded liquor licences

  • Much needed reform: Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs at a press conference yesterday at Devonshire Recreation Club (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Stephen Todd, the chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, right, and Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, at a press conference yesterday at Devonshire Recreation Club (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

New classes of liquor licences have been introduced to widen the amount of businesses that can serve alcohol at special events.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, said yesterday that the revisions to the licensing law would “usher in much needed reform to modernise Bermuda’s liquor-licensing regime”.

Ms Simmons added: “This will enable more entrepreneurs to potentially participate and provide innovative and creative events for both locals and our visitors.”

The new legislation has created a special-event licence for private, non-profit events, public events for profit, or non-profit events held to promote a product such as wine tasting.

The move came after several organisations were denied liquor licences under the old legislation.

Some establishments that did not have a bar could not apply for liquor licences under the old regime.

But charities could apply for occasional liquor licences granted for social, charitable or benevolent purposes.

There are also new classes of licence in relation to itinerant restaurants and special events and for restaurants that offer outside catering services.

Ms Simmons said the amendments were the first comprehensive overhaul of the previous Act, which was passed 45 years ago.

She added that the Government wanted to create a balance between protection of people from the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and the need for entrepreneurs to cater to adult customers.

A single Liquor Licensing Authority made up of five members, down from ten, will be established.

Ms Simmons said: “This replaces the predominantly geographical focus of the previous three licensing authorities with three members for each of the three districts, plus a predetermined chair.”

She added that the members would represent sectors such as the law, security, drug treatment, social work, hospitality and retail to make sure all interested parties were represented and offer a streamlined service for on-time applications.

The members of the new authority have not been revealed yet.

Ms Simmons said recommendations from the senior magistrate, the former chairman of the Liquor Licensing Authorities were taken into account, as well as social, legal and commercial concerns.

People who earlier applied for liquor licences will have their applications assessed under the new legislation, which will be run through the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Stephen Todd, the chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said the organisation backed the changes.

He added: “This is much welcome news in terms of making the regulations more streamlined, more efficient.

“I believe it is going to provide opportunities for our destination partners to provide the level of amenities and service that are much needed in terms of our visitors and what they expect.”

Last month, magistrate Maxanne Anderson told several organisations, including the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute and the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Visitor Centre, both in Hamilton, to wait for the new legislation because they could not be granted liquor licences under the existing law.

Wholesale distributors of alcohol were also told they could not get occasional licences for events such as wine tasting under the previous Act.