The Foyle MLA said: “The liberalisation of the North’s antiquated licensing laws is long overdue.
“This legislative change will provide vital support for the hospitality industry, which is needed now more than ever, as the industry deals with and seeks to recover from COVID-19.”
“It is also welcome that the Minister has made clear that we must balance the modernisation of this sector, while recognising the impact of alcohol on public health.
“We must all play our part in tackling addiction, alcohol misuse and promoting responsibility consumption.
“As Hospitality Ulster has previously outlined, the local hospitality industry supports thousands of jobs, contributes £1.2bn every year to our economy and is a key cornerstone of our growing tourism industry.
“Evidently, modernising our licensing laws is crucial to the future economic growth of the North.”
“Given the huge and lasting impact of COVID-19 on our tourism and hospitality sector, this news will be a welcome boost for them, in the context of a very difficult six months, and more pressure ahead.”
“Publicans and the public will be particularly pleased at proposals to remove the antiquated and draconian restrictions on Easter opening.”
“The current crisis has also highlighted the need for legislation that contains in-built flexibilities that allow the hospitality industry to respond to whatever the future may throw at us.”
“I welcome this legislation introduced by the Minister.
“It is crucial that this legislation is progressed at pace, so we do not have another Easter period with archaic licensing laws.
“We cannot miss this opportunity to give our hospitality industry and tourism sectors a much needed boost,” added Mr Durkan.