Can Alcohol Be Served in Outdoor Dining Areas?

There has been an outcry from the hospitality industry, following media reports that pubs and restaurants are not legally permitted to serve alcohol in temporary outdoor seating areas. Confusion arose as to what is permitted under licensing laws and what effect local Bye-Laws (if adopted) have on outdoor seating areas granted in respect of a public place.

More than ever, outdoor seating areas have become invaluable to restaurants, cafés and bars and have played a key role in their reopening strategy.

In an effort to assist hospitality businesses, Local Authorities across the country have been working vigorously to create spaces for outdoor dining to enable them to grant Temporary Covid Street Furniture Permits or Street Furniture Licences. Many Local Authorities have also waived street furniture fees for varying periods.

Can Alcohol be Served in the  Outdoor Dining Area?

While Alcohol may be consumed in the outdoor dining area, the actual sale of the alcohol, that is, the paying for the alcohol, must take place within the licensed area.

What if there are Bye-Laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a public place?

There are no countrywide laws prohibiting drinking in public, however each Local Authority area is entitled to pass Bye-Laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a public place.

Many Bye-Laws adopted (such as Dublin City Council or Galway City Council) include exceptions which allow for alcohol to be consumed while seated at tables and chairs provided on a public place immediately adjacent to the hospitality business or in an area covered by a Street Furniture Licence.

You should make enquiries with your Local Authority, to ascertain what the position is regarding Bye-Laws and if alcohol is permitted to be served in the outdoor seated area.

What other factors must be considered?

There are a number of factors that must be considered when operating an outdoor dining area including compliance with all aspects of the Intoxicating Liquor Acts such as permitted trading hours, laws regarding sale of alcohol to drunk persons and laws relating to underage persons etc.

We have prepared a detailed guide to outdoor seating areas in Section 11 of our Reopening Booklet which includes the process of applying for a Licence/Permit and what you must consider.  Please click HERE.

This document is intended to provide a general overview and guidance on a particular topic. It is provided wholly without any liability or responsibility on the part of Compton Solicitors and does not replace the necessity to obtain specific legal advice.


Please contact Lorraine Compton or Fiona Tonge for more information: –

  • Lorraine Compton on 086 – 253 4651 or lorraine.compton@comptonsolicitors.ie


  • Fiona Tonge on 089 – 471 4128 or             fiona.tonge@comptonsolicitors.ie