By Niall O’Connor and Eilish O’Regan
December 15, 2017
Shops and off-licences are to be given a series of options aimed at making alcohol less visible to customers as part of a compromise deal put forward by the Government.
Health Minister Simon Harris has been forced to water down the controversial Public Health Alcohol Bill after it met with major opposition from lobby groups and a number of Fine Gael politicians.
The central tenet of the Bill will see shops obliged to put up screens or turnstiles to make alcohol less visible.
However, details of the plan, seen by the Herald, will still allow certain shops to keep alcohol on display.
Shops will be asked to adopt one of three options for the display and sale of alcohol:
l The separation of alcohol products from all other groceries behind a non see-through barrier at least 1.2 metres in height.
l The placing of alcohol in stand-alone cabinets where it is not visible up to a height of 1.5 metres.
l Introducing a maximum of three normal units or “bays” of shelving for the display and sale of alcohol products. This will be aimed specifically at small shops.
It is understood shops will be given a period of two years to effect the plan.
Last night, Mr Harris said they were landmark measures.
“As a country, we have already shown that public health legislation in the area of tobacco can work. Now let’s do the same for alcohol,” he said.
The changes mean that very small shops can have three shelves which display alcohol. However, they must remove all booze from behind tills.
Larger stores must erect a barrier between 1.5 and 2.2 metres high with enclosed storage units.
Bigger supermarkets and convenience stores must put up a physical barrier at least 1.2 metres high and also install some form of restricted entry.
The Irish Wine Association said it strongly opposed a labelling proposal in the Bill, saying it contained “draconian measures” which would have a devastating effect on the sector.
It said the changes would mean less choice for consumers and an increase in business costs and it could lead to higher prices.