Confusion over liquor sale laws

By Colin Williscroft


Bars, clubs, restaurants and vineyards all face different rules over whether they can open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and what they can sell.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said the rules around alcohol sales were complex and confusing.

His organisation was so concerned about confusion it sent out reminders to members about the Easter trading laws. Pubs and taverns can't sell alcohol on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, except to those staying on the premises or dining. And diners can't linger after their meal - usually expected to leave within half an hour, Mr Robertson said.

Some Wairarapa pubs have decided it's not even worth trying to stay open on those days.

Gareth Teahan, manager at The Homestead in Masterton, said they would close on Friday and Sunday - despite both being busy nights for Super Rugby. He was clear on the rules, but said it did have an impact on sales. "You lose money, because you're still paying staff and you don't have any income for those days."

Hayley Miller, bar manager at The Lounge Bar in Carterton, said they didn't think customers would pay for a full meal.

"They could give people a bit more leeway as to what you'd class a substantial meal, because people will sit there and nibble on a meal just so they could keep drinking."

The rules are different for chartered clubs, community clubs, cosmopolitan clubs, workingmen's clubs, sports clubs and RSAs, which can open both holidays. Helen Davidson, bar manager at the Carterton RSA, said it would not open on Good Friday and whether it opened on Sunday was being considered.

Vineyards are different again - tomorrow they can only sell wine if it's being consumed with a meal. But on Sunday wine can be sold and taken off the property, as long as it was made on that property or made from grapes harvested there. Ian McGovern, co-owner of Loopline Vineyard at Opaki said having to close the cellar door tomorrow would mean sales would be lost, which was not ideal for the business.

"But from a personal point of view, we're forced to have a day off, which is a good thing."

Any business found operating on a day that it is not entitled to faces a fine of up to $1000. The Department of Labour said it did not release details on how it planned to police the laws.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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