SINGAPORE - Partygoers who visit Clarke Quay on Friday nights can now imbibe alcohol for an hour longer until 4am the next day at popular nightspots like Zouk, Attica and The Pump Room every week, instead of two Fridays a month.
This is the result of a trial extension of liquor licensing hours by the police and comes after nightclubs in the area had called for a review of curbs on the selling of alcohol, which they said had hurt their business.
The extension, requested by Clarke Quay's management in June, will take effect from Friday (Aug 10) and applies to selected nightclubs and bars in the precinct until the end of September.
The allowance is for licensees who had applied for the extension and had not breached their liquor licensing conditions in the last quarter, the police said in a statement on Friday night.
Those operators are: nightclub Zouk and its bars Capital, Phuture and Red Tail, Attica, Le Noir, F.Club, The Pump Room, Highlander and Get Juiced.
During the trial period, Clarke Quay management and tenants will beef up security by increasing security staff and installing additional CCTVs for instance, the police said, adding that they will assess the law and order situation after the trial and make "suitable adjustments".
Under regulations introduced in 2013, bars and clubs in Clarke Quay could no longer sell liquor until 6am the next day. They had to stop by 3am the next day, on Sundays and weekdays and by 4am the next day on Saturdays and the eve of public holidays.
The curbs were to tackle the high number of violent crimes in Clarke Quay, said the police, and the number of public order incidents has plummeted in the three years after the rules kicked in.
Liquor licensing curbs have already been relaxed over the last two years to allow extensions to 4am the next morning on two Fridays a month, as well as for special events such as F1-related festivities.
But nightclubs said their business is still affected by the shorter liquor hours. The reason: unlike bars, clubs fill up only after midnight, meaning that shorter licensing hours translate to a smaller window for alcohol sales.
Last month (jul), the police had said it was assessing the potential impact of further extensions on the safety and security of the precinct.
Zouk Group's chief executive Andrew Li said in response to queries on Friday that the club will remain open until 5am the next day on all Fridays during the trial to sell water and soft drinks after liquor hours end at 4am.
"The trial hours are a great step toward levelling the playing field. Zouk is committed to enforcing good security practices and working together with the authorities to ensure a safe environment for all our guests and attendees," he said.
Ms Kelly Brimblecombe, who co-owns Attica and Le Noir, said that having consistent licensing hours for Fridays will be less confusing for customers. Both outlets will also stay open until 5am to help inebriated customers sober up with sales of soft drinks and snacks.
"We don't foresee an increase in incidents as we already have 4am on Saturday and two Fridays a month... if anything we hope that there will be fewer issues due to the staggered exits," she said.