Cops to clamp down on closing hours of rum shops
Persons who enjoy hanging out at the various bars/rum shops throughout the island may soon have to find alternative hangout spots, if they want to stick around after 10 p.m.
This, as police have started enforcing the closing times associated with the Shop (Hours of Opening and Employment) Act, 1942, and the Liquor License Act.
These Acts regulate the opening hours of shops and other premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, and the limitation of the hours of employment in certain cases.
There are 10 types of liquor licenses issued by the Magistrate Courts and these licenses have a stipulated closing time attached to them.
Class one is for persons in the wholesale liquor business, class two is given to retailers in the main towns (Kingstown, Calliaqua, Chateaubelair, Barrouallie, Layou, Georgetown) and class three is given to operators of shops in the country side. A class four license is given to persons operating in the Grenadines.
Class five is given to hotels, while class six is given to refreshment houses (a refreshment house under the law is described as any house, room, shop or building kept open for public refreshment, resort or entertainment).
Class seven is for persons who sell liquor occasionally, while class eight allows for the selling of bottled liquor.Liquor sold under a class eight license should not be consumed on the premises.
A class nine license is given to a club, and only persons with class nine licenses are allowed to sell liquor 24 hours a day. All other license holders must close off at a stipulated time.
According to the Liquor License Act, businesses selling liquor and operating in districts, villages and towns have prescribed hours of operations, as outlined by the Shop Act. Businesses operating in all small towns and villages, and other areas outside Kingstown and a radius of two miles from Kingstown, are allowed to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday.
In the Grenadines, shops can operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays. There are no mentioned times for operations on Sunday, which seems to point to these businesses not being allowed to operate on that day.
Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John said that the law as it relates to the closing times is being enforced, as the police are seeing many reports where incidents occur at liquor and provision shops at times when they should have been closed, according to the law.
“So, if the shop was closed at that time then it was likely that those offences would not have been committed. Some of these offences are coming out of where persons were drinking and gambling after the stipulated time for closure of the shop,” stressed the COP.
He said that police officers will now be going around and checking on shops to make sure they adhere to the closing times.
“I must admit the law is in some variance with the need to conduct commerce and things of that nature, but that is not something for the police. The law makers, they will have to change the legislation to allow later times of operation, but as it is now, it is the law and we are just applying the law,” said Commissioner John.
Meanwhile, persons who want to remain open after 10 p.m. will have to apply for the correct license, as they can face the full force of the law, which can include a fine or result in the closure of the business, or both.
A class one license costs $250 per quarter, a class two – $150 per quarter, a class three and four – $110 per quarter, a class five – $315 per quarter, a class six – $315 per quarter and a class seven – $125 per day. A class eight is $250 per quarter and a class nine is $315.