British ready to extend pub hours

Towns will get option to permit pubs to remain open after 11 p.m.

Sept 9, 1999 - The Millennium present British beer drinkers were expecting may arrive a little early. The long-awaited extension of pub closing hours apparently will take effect before the end of the year.


British lawmakers had planned to overhaul the traditional licensing hours next spring. Proposals to ease drinking laws enacted during World War I already have solid political backing.

For more than 80 years pubs have been required to close at 11 p.m. Until a little more than 10 years ago, pubs were also required to close between lunch and dinner. Some pubs continue to keep those hours and it is expected that a similar number of pubs may choose to continue closing at 11 p.m.

A White Paper is likely to give licensing powers to local authorities, so communities can decide whether they want late night drinking. Many are expected to opt for change to end the closing-time rush.

Legislation has already passed to allow round-the-clock opening for New Year's Eve itself.

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