Extension of liquor hours at Clarke Quay on trial

Several nightclubs and bars in Clark Quay have been granted extended liquor licensing hours by the police.
Several nightclubs and bars in Clark Quay have been granted extended liquor licensing hours by the police. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Partygoers visiting nightspots there on Fridays can now drink until 4am, up from twice a month

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 called for a review of curbs on the selling of alcohol, which they said had hurt their businesses.

The extension, requested by Clarke Quay's management in June, took effect yesterday and applies to selected nightclubs and bars in the precinct until the end of next month.

The allowance is for licensees who had applied for the extension and had not breached their liquor licensing conditions in the last three months, the police said in a statement last night.

The affected nightspots are nightclub Zouk and its bars Capital, Phuture and Red Tail, as well as other operators 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 closed-circuit television for instance, the police said.

The police added 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. They had to stop by 4am on Sundays and public holidays and by 3am the rest of the week.

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.

But nightclubs said their business is still affected by the curbs.They said that unlike bars, clubs fill up only after midnight, meaning that shorter licensing hours translate to a smaller window for alcohol sales.

Last month, the police had said they were 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 yesterday 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 towards 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... if anything we hope that there will be fewer issues due to the staggered (time of) exits," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2018, with the headline 'Extension of liquor hours at Clarke Quay on trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe