Easter Trading And Supply Of Alcohol

There are 3.5 days a year where the law requires that shops must close. These are ANZAC morning, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day. Parliament recently introduced a Bill to amend the Shop Trading Hours Repeal Act 1990. The purpose is to allow councils to decide whether shops can open on Easter Sunday.

Fortunately, this restriction does not apply to businesses which sell prepared or cooked food such as cafes, takeaway outlets and restaurants; however there are limitations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 that regulates the sale of alcohol on the same days. Generally unless you have a special licence, you cannot sell alcohol on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day or before 1pm on Anzac Day. There are two exceptions and these apply to people residing or lodging on the premises or people who are present on the premises to dine. A remote seller of alcohol is also exempted from selling alcohol but cannot deliver these goods on any of these days. Unfortunately there are no exceptions that apply to off-licences such as bottle stores, which will have to close. If you do fall into either exceptions, there is useful information to keep in mind when trading over Easter:

Staying on the premises

An accommodation business such as a hotel or motel can serve alcohol to patrons who are residing on the premises as a guest, lodger, tenant or employee. The restriction on alcohol will not apply to these patrons while they are on the premises so long as they are residing at the premises.

Present to dine

The holder of an on-licence can only supply alcohol to patrons if they are there to dine. Previous decisions from the Liquor Licence Authority (now the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority) have further indicated that patrons must order a substantial meal as opposed to snack food. A common practice for some businesses is to only provide one hour of drinking time on each side of the meal, which is likely to ensure that patrons are genuinely dining and ensure the business is operating within the law.

Public holidays

As well as adhering to rules of supplying of alcohol, there are also the public holidays to take into account. To make matters confusing, only part of the Easter weekend has public holidays, therefore businesses may also consider whether surcharges are necessary to cover staff costs. This year Easter weekend runs from 25-28 March 2016. It is useful to remember the following applies:

  • Friday – public holiday and restricted alcohol sales.
  • Saturday – not a public holiday and no restricted alcohol sales (business as per usual).
  • Sunday – not a public holiday but restricted alcohol sales.
  • Monday – public holiday but no restricted alcohol sales.

Although Easter Sunday is one of the days where shops are required to close, it is not considered a public holiday for the purposes of time and a half and a day in lieu, that an employee is sometimes entitled to under the Holidays Act 2004.