Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

New law wrings out 'happy hour'

Bar, restaurant and supermarket operators will have to watch discounting and promotions from December 18.

Justice Minister Judith Collins told the Herald that some communities are concerned about the impact of alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Justice Minister Judith Collins told the Herald that some communities are concerned about the impact of alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Some bars' and restaurants' "happy hour" promotions will be outlawed under alcohol reforms which come into force next month.

Owners of bars, restaurants, supermarkets and bottle stores say they will have to take much more care about what they promote outside their premises, because discounts of 25 per cent or more on beer, wine and spirits will be banned from all advertising except inside licensed premises.

Under the wide-ranging changes - which were passed into law in December last year - clubs and pubs will also have to close at 4am.

This could change if local councils set their own policies, but in the meantime it was expected to affect up to 1000 venues nationwide during one of their busiest business periods.

Police will also be able to issue spot fines to anyone drinking alcohol in a liquor ban area, such as in downtown Auckland.

Some of the changes targeted irresponsible marketing of alcohol.

Justice Minister Judith Collins told the Herald: "Communities have told us they are concerned about the impact of alcohol advertising and sponsorship. Many people worry that marketing can glorify drinking, or affords it unwarranted status given the harm that can occur when people overindulge."

Bars would no longer be able to offer "2-for-1" deals or deep discounts outside a store, in brochures, or in social media.

Some supermarkets were already using advertising designed to get around these rules, such as promoting a "beer sale week" or "wine sale week".

It would also be illegal to use promotions which led people to believe they would get a discount of 25 per cent or more.

Hospitality Association deputy chief Sara Tucker said: "We think we can probably still do happy hours, as long as happy hours don't suggest a 50 per cent discount. It's an interesting question - if you see happy hour do you think 50 per cent discount?"

Asked whether happy hours would be abolished, Mrs Collins said: "It depends on the promotion."

Police, the Health Promotion Agency and the Hospitality Association were working on guidelines for bars and restaurants.

Some of the changes

*Parents or guardians must give express consent for minors to drink, or risk a criminal offence punishable by a $2000 fine
*Bars, clubs and restaurants must close between 4am and 8am, and stores between 11pm and 7am
*Police can issue spot fines for people who drink in a liquor ban area
*Changes come into force December 18

- NZ Herald

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