Sunday liquor sales amendment in effect

The sign at the Rubis gas station in Red Bay advertises the sale of wine and beer inside the Peanuts store. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Liquor stores and gas stations will be able to apply for Sunday opening hours when the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman meets Thursday.

Changes to the law, allowing the board to permit Sunday opening for holders of package licenses, came into effect Monday.

The amendments are designed to clarify and simplify a licensing regime that had become confusing and difficult to navigate, resulting in controversy over which businesses were permitted to open on Sunday and under what circumstances. The most immediate practical effect of the change will be that liquor and convenience stores, such as Peanuts store at Red Bay gas station, will require only one license and will be able to serve beer, wine and spirits to customers on Sundays.

The Liquor Licensing Board had already agreed to allow Sunday sales for convenience stores, gas stations and liquor stores. In a decision, announced in April, the board concluded, after taking legal advice, that it was permitted to grant retail licenses, typically reserved for bars, to other types of business.

Retail licenses allow for Sunday sales of alcohol to be taken off premises, in quantities of a case of beer or a bottle of spirits or more. Package licenses, the more common category for traditional liquor stores, only permit Monday to Saturday hours but place no restrictions on quantity. The amendments extend Sunday opening to package license holders, at the board’s discretion, and clarify that retail licenses should be reserved for bars and other venues that sell alcohol on the premises.

That means that when the liquor board meets Thursday, it will face the task of ensuring every business is licensed in the right category. The spin-off benefit for businesses is that they will only require one license and that liquor stores will be able to sell beer in smaller quantities on Sundays.

Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Joseph Hew said in a press release that the changes sought to address urgent matters only.

“Over the years there has been some ambiguity and issues with several sections of the Liquor Licensing Law,” he said. “These amendments were done in [an] effort to address some of the critical deficiencies and provide a more efficient licensing regime.”

He said a more comprehensive review of the law is planned, which will take a closer look at rules around the training of bar staff and the advertising of alcohol, as well as potentially combining the Music and Dancing Control Law with the Liquor Licensing Law.

Noel Williams, chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board, said in the release, “The Liquor Licensing Board is pleased that the recent changes to the law now provides clarity to the roles and responsibility of the Board. The Board will now be equipped with the tools and training necessary to run fairly and efficiently.”

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