Coronavirus: Belfast bar allowed to deliver pints again

An outside view of the Hatfield BarImage copyright

A Belfast bar is set to resume its delivery service for pints after being initially stopped over an alleged breach of licensing rules.

The Hatfield Bar on the Ormeau Road had been delivering drinks to people’s homes during the coronavirus lockdown.

After resolving a dispute with the PSNI, and making some modifications to how the delivery is carried out, it has been allowed to resume the service.

Chief Supt Jonathan Roberts said he was “pleased” with the resolution.

Delivery service

The service is delivered by Hatfield staff using a specially-fitted van, with drinks poured into plastic glasses and placed on customers’ doorsteps.

Those operating the van wear protective equipment, including face coverings and gloves.

After being prevented from continuing the deliveries, the owners of the bar launched a High Court challenge.

The hearing on Friday granted interim relief, with a final conclusion to the case expected next week.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra programme, Ch Supt Roberts said police had initially “identified a number of issues with the practice as it was at that time”.

He said most of these would not be apparent to the customer.

“We are confident now changes to the service will be implemented which will allow it to comply with the legislation,” he added.

He said while “a broad interpretation” could be made of the judgement, businesses should take legal advice and consult with the PSNI before going ahead with a similar type of service.

‘Delighted and relieved’

Speaking to BBC News NI, general manager of the Hatfield Richie Keenan said he was “delighted and relieved” and that it had been “a long few weeks”.

“The guys who worked here, collectively reduced their hours so we collectively didn’t have to make redundancies,” he said.

Coronavirus: Belfast bar allowed to deliver pints again 1

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Media captionShould pubs be able to deliver pints in lockdown?

“We will be forever grateful to them for that. Getting this back on the road means they’ll have hours and they’ll have jobs here.”

He said there had been a big demand for the service, and it had reached older people who were ordinarily not able to visit a pub.

“You can go to some men and give them a pint of Guinness, and they have maybe not had a pint of Guinness in years,” he said.

He said delivered pints of Guinness and cocktails like strawberry daiquiri had proven popular.

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