Two suggestions in particular made in the National Crime Reduction Strategy appear to be at odds with what local club and bar owners have advocated and changes some businesses have attempted to make in applications before the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman.
Proposals in the crime strategy sought to restrict club and bar opening hours to 1am on all nights and to explore the possibility of raising the legal drinking age in Cayman to 21. Right now, the legal age is 18. Proposals from several local nightclubs to extend drinking and operating hours on Friday nights into Saturday mornings were delayed for a second time before the Liquor Licensing Board during a June meeting.
According to a list of board decisions, Jet Nightclub, O Bar, the L.I. Lounge, and the recently shuttered Club Allure asked to extend drinking hours until 3am Saturdays and extend music and dancing hours until 3.30am. Elements nightclub asked to extend music and dancing hours until 4am in addition to requesting its drinking hours be extended until 3am.
Currently, the operating hours of those businesses on Saturday mornings extend until 2am for alcohol sales and 3am for music and dancing.
Nightclub owners have repeatedly asked for an extension on their hours since local bars are allowed to serve alcohol as late as 2am, which the nightclubs say cuts into their business.
Meanwhile, some bar owners have advocated that licensing officials allow establishments to close at the discretion of the management on any given night.
Such a move, according to Horace DuQuesnay who owns the Corner Pocket bar and Temptations club in George Town, would help offset operating costs forced upon local bars and clubs by the government within the past two years.
Mr. DuQuesnay said increases in work permit costs and electric bills have become unsustainable for many local licensed establishments.
“My light bill increased by $280 in one month,” he said. “If I have a girl go behind the bar and open a beer [for a customer] I have to pay for a bartender’s work permit for her. That cannot work.”
Mr. DuQuesnay also said that he doubted much crime actually occurs at the hands of suspects who get drunk first, and then go out and rob businesses or individuals.
“These people don’t go out drinking and then commit a crime,” he said. “I don’t see where liquor sales of the opening hours of a bar have anything to do with crime.”
Board chairman Mitchell Welds said recently that he expected the issue regarding the nightclub hours extension applications to be resolved by the next Liquor Licensing Board meeting, tentatively scheduled for mid-September.
Mr. Welds indicated that he was concerned about recent reports he received about licensed establishments allowing underage patrons onto their premises and allowing them to drink alcohol.
“They need to show the board they are taking proper precautions to prevent [underage patronage],” he said.
The National Crime Reduction Strategy recommended licensing beverage servers as a way to head off the potential they might serve alcohol to underage patrons.