Police this week, amid criticism against the Liquor Licensing Board for extending the opening hours for bars and nightclubs, sent out a statement warning anyone caught with a weapon at night will be prosecuted.
It is illegal for people to carry weapons, including knives and machetes, at night in clubs, restaurants, bars, theaters, parking lots or other places where people assemble. The punishment for carrying a weapon can include a $5,000 fine and up to four years in prison. Police say they will be out in force for the long weekend to try to prevent more violent incidents outside clubs and bars.
The Liquor Licensing Board announced last week that, except for Saturday nights and Sundays, bars would be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. and nightclubs until 4 a.m.
In one case last weekend, the police statement notes, “We learned of a bar at which security personnel removed ten knives from patrons who entered the establishment, and then returned these knives to patrons when they left.”
Inspector Lloyd Marriott, acting area commander for George Town with the police service, said in the statement, “We do not intend to criticize security personnel, who might not be aware of the law.”
He continued, “We would also like to remind bar and nightclub owners that they have a positive duty under Section 26 of the Liquor License Law to notify police of drunk and disorderly persons and ask such people to leave the premises, without necessarily providing a reason.”
Speaking of the gatherings that often spring up after closing times outside bars and nightclubs, Inspector Marriott said, “Section 68 of the Penal Code describes certain assemblies that can be unlawful, and we will be enforcing this as well in an effort to reduce the kinds of disturbances we have seen as of late.”
Joe DiFilipo, owner of the Attic bar and Obar nightclub on West Bay Road, said the additional hour that he’s now allowed to keep his nightclub open probably will not help his business and, in fact, could do more harm than good.
He said, “I completely agree with the police in that this will create more problems – nightclubs don’t need 4 a.m. it will only cause more cost and problems for clubs.”