Parliament: 10 things about the proposed alcohol consumption restrictions

SINGAPORE - A ban on consuming alcohol in public places from 10.30pm to 7am is the major change proposed in a new Liquor Control Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday.

For example, what happens if you're having a barbecue at a park? Can you take away a beer and drink it at your barbecue pit after 10.30pm?

Find out more about various scenarios below:


-- SOURCE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

1. What is a public place?

A public place refers to any place the public have access to. It can be out in the open or enclosed, and includes parks, void decks and pavements.

2. Where can you drink/not drink?

Between 10.30pm and 7am, you can drink at licensed premises, which can include restaurants, coffee shops and bars. You can also drink at a private residence.

You will not be able to drink at HDB void decks and corridors.

3. What if I'm having a barbecue at a park or an event?

You will need a liquor consumption permit - on top of the NParks permit for a barbecue pit - to drink alcohol after 10.30pm.

A permit is also required if you intend to consume liquor at an event or gathering at a HDB void deck or corridor beyond 10.30pm.

The applicant is responsible to ensure that public order is maintained.

4. What if I want to buy alcohol and drink it at home?

There are no restrictions on drinking at home, but retail sale hours for take-away liquor will also end at 10.30pm throughout Singapore.

5. Why not just restrict drinking at some public areas?

The restriction will apply to all public places so that it will be clearer to the public, and easier to enforce. This also minimises displacing the problem from one area to another.

6. Why 10.30pm?

The timing is aligned with community events in residential estates which end at 10.30pm, to minimise noise and disturbance to residents. Most shops would also be closed by then.

7. What are the penalties?

A person found drinking at a public place within the non-drinking hours for the first time could be fined up to $1,000. Repeat offenders risk paying a maximum of $2,000 or imprisonment of up to three months, or both.

If a person is found trespassing or appearing in a public place while drunk and causing annoyance to another, he could face slightly stiffer penalties: a fine of up to $1,000 or jail time of up to six months, or both.

8. What are Liquor Control Zones?

An area, designated by the Minister, where there is a significant risk of public disorder associated with excessive consumption of liquor.

There will be stricter restrictions on these areas, and liquor-related offences committed within such a zone will result in an enhanced penalty of 1.5 times that in non-designated areas.

Based on the police's current operational assessment, specified areas in Little India and Geylang will be designated as Liquor Control Zones.

9. Less strict than other jurisdictions

According to studies of overseas jurisdictions by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore's new laws are not the strictest.

In some states in the US, including New York City, laws prohibit drinking in public places at all times, while retail sales for take-away alcohol end at 10pm in Britain.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are countries with no alcohol restrictions in public places, like Hong Kong and Japan.


-- SOURCE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

10. Not triggered by Dec 8, 2013, riot in Little India

MHA said it began its review on alcohol laws in September 2012, after complaints about excessive liquor consumption and drunkenness in public places.

Its two public consultation exercises between October 2013 and August 2014 showed broad support for restrictions on public drinking and the sale of alcohol.


-- SOURCE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

chuimin@sph.com.sg