Industry calls for more clarity on extension of liquor sales hours

Industry calls for more clarity on extension of liquor sales hours

SINGAPORE - The alcohol industry has called for more clarity on when liquor retail sales hours can be extended, just hours after a Bill was introduced in Parliament yesterday to curb public consumption and the sale of alcohol.

It also asked the Government to work with the industry to tease out details on what businesses needed to do to make the transition to the new set of regulations.

The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill, if passed, will bar retail shops islandwide from selling takeaway liquor after 10.30pm.

Currently, many do so till midnight. An extension for such sales may be granted on a case-by-case basis, although no other details were provided.

In a joint press statement yesterday, 13 major retailers and manufacturers - including 7-Eleven, and Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) - said they supported the regulations and even called for a "high-level and visible enforcement" of the restriction on liquor consumption in public places.

But in the same breath, they called on the Government to be circumspect in applying the law, as "addressing the relevant social issues need not result in disproportionately penalising responsible consumers who are the majority in Singapore".

When contacted separately, APB - which helped to facilitate a government visit to Australia last year to study how the government there worked with the industry to tackle alcohol-related issues - said business would not be impacted greatly as "consumers in Singapore are generally responsible drinkers".

Supermarket chain Sheng Siong expects a "knee-jerk reaction" in the market initially. "But as more consumers become more aware of the new restrictions, they can plan ahead and carry on as usual," said its spokesman.

Cheers, however, expects alcohol sales at its 165 outlets here to dip by as much as 15 per cent to 20 per cent as "it has more stores that operate 24 hours". Their central outlets are likely to be hit hardest, said its spokesman.

The industry members have also come up with ways to work with the Government.

They offered, among other things, to volunteer a liquor retail licence up for suspension for a period of time if a public liquor consumption offence was traced back to their store.

They also offered to work with the police to identify problem hot spots and post information to alert the public to the new restrictions and penalties.

This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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