New liquor laws: What's ok, what's not

Drinking is allowed if you have a permit from the National Parks Board to organise a barbecue in the park, but it must be done within the "immediate vicinity" of the barbecue area and only during the permit duration.
Drinking is allowed if you have a permit from the National Parks Board to organise a barbecue in the park, but it must be done within the "immediate vicinity" of the barbecue area and only during the permit duration.ST FILE PHOTO

Curbs kick in today; police will take 'calibrated' approach in enforcement

The new alcohol laws that apply from today will not stop people from having a tipple if they fire up a barbecue in a park.

As long as you have a permit from the National Parks Board to organise the barbecue in a park, including East Coast Park, you can pop the corks.

But drinking must be within the "immediate vicinity" of the barbecue area and only during the permit duration, according to the police website.

Several Members of Parliament previously expressed concern about whether it would be easy to apply for a consumption permit that would allow drinking at an event held in a public place.

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar Nair had suggested that a person should be allowed to ask for a permit as part of the application for the barbecue pit itself.

Drinking is also allowed during restricted hours at events held by the Government or statutory boards for a public purpose.

The new restrictions are part of the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act, which bans drinking in all public places from 10.30pm to 7am every day.

Places with free access such as parks and Housing Board void decks are deemed public places while condominiums and chalets are regarded as private.

Retail outlets such as convenience stores or supermarkets are barred from selling takeaway alcohol from 10.30pm to 7am.

People can drink in licensed premises such as restaurants and pubs, which can sell alcohol according to its licence.

There may be exceptions, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday.

Organisers of events to be held in public places can apply for a "consumption permit" from the police if drinking during restricted hours may occur.

Police can extend retail sale hours on a case-by-case basis after considering "the propensity for public disorder and disamenities" in the area and what measures the licensees are prepared to put in place to reduce drinking-related problems.

MHA also outlined the stricter rules for Geylang and Little India, which are designated as Liquor Control Zones - places with a higher risk of public disorder associated with excessive drinking.

Public drinking is banned in Geylang and Little India from 7am on Saturdays to 7am on Mondays. The ban also applies from 7pm on the eve of a public holiday to 7am on the day after the holiday. This is similar to the temporary measures introduced to curb excessive drinking in Little India after the riot in 2013. Shops within the zones are also not allowed to sell takeaway alcohol from 7pm on weekends and the eve of a public holiday and the holiday itself.

Anyone drinking illegally can be fined up to $1,000 and repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000 and jailed for up to three months. A shop selling alcohol after the permitted hours could be fined up to $10,000.

MHA stressed that police will take a "calibrated" approach in enforcement.

Mr Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said that while there have been some negative reactions to the law, it has received "very strong support" among his residents.

He added: "This is a practical response to a longstanding issue on the ground. So, we need to give this some time to work, and then assess if there needs to be any change in approach."

limyihan@sph.com.sg