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Pub happy hours and drink offers to return?

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HAPPY hours, buy-one-get-one-free and other drinks promotions could soon return in Jersey pubs, and minimum pricing on alcohol could be abolished, if proposals lodged by a States Member are passed.

Deputy Lindsay Ash (28758191)

Deputy Lindsay Ash, an Assistant Treasury Minister and a long-term critic of alcohol pricing in the Island, has lodged a proposition calling for the reforms, which he says could boost the ailing hospitality and tourism sectors.

It is curently illegal to sell drinks for less than 50p per unit of alcohol in Jersey after measures were approved by the Licensing Assembly in December 2019.

Meanwhile bars and restaurants have been heavily restricted in their alcohol pricing since 2000.

The report outlining Deputy Ash’s proposals says: ‘In Jersey, there has been no States debate surrounding the minimum pricing of alcohol.

‘There has been no public consultation paper put forward on the subject. There has been no evidence presented to the Assembly to say that, on balance, minimum pricing is the right policy to pursue, for x or y reason.

‘And there has been no opportunity for the Scrutiny function to scrutinise such evidence or the decision-making process. Whether minimum alcohol pricing is a good thing or not, I do not know. I am open-minded to it.

‘Other Members I have spoken to feel the same, but they have told me they would need to be convinced of the merits of such a policy after a period of consultation and reflection.’

The report adds that the reintroduction of happy hours and the likes of ‘three-for-two’ promotions could boost hospitality at a time of crisis.

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‘At a time when hospitality and tourism is looking to try and make a come-back after the shut-down of businesses during the pandemic, the question of why promotions on drinks (such as ‘happy hours’ or buy one, get one free or similar) are not permitted in Jersey has been put back into sharp focus,’ it says.

‘I would ask, is this quasi-governmental interference in how someone chooses to run their business – what offers they wish to make to their clients – a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim?

‘What is the reason happy hours are not allowed in Jersey? Has it succeeded in curbing excess drinking in Jersey? Whose policy was it and how did it come about? Even now, under the minimum-pricing-of-alcohol policy, supermarkets are still able to offer promotions, which pubs and bars are not.’

The proposition is due to be debated on 8 September.

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Meanwhile, Health Minister Richard Renouf has lodged a proposition to introduce a regulatory regime for private businesses offering Covid-19 testing.

The report says: ‘Ministers recognise the potential risks associated with faulty or poor-quality Covid-19 testing, and these regulations will provide a system of oversight and control of the testing services provided on-Island by private providers.’

Deputy Renouf’s proposals are scheduled for debate on 14 July.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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