Pub manager, young musician say new liquor rules long overdue

New changes to liquor regulations across the Island will make it easier to bring a child with you if you're planning to go somewhere alcohol is served.

New rules allow minors in licensed establishments until 2 a.m., change permissions for underage performers

As of this Saturday it's going to be easier to take your child with you if you're going somewhere on Prince Edward Island where liquor is being served. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

New changes to liquor regulations across the Island will make it easier to bring a child with you if you're planning to go somewhere alcohol is served. 

Under the current rules, children are not permitted within licensed bars or restaurants past 10 p.m. The new regulations will allow minors in licensed establishments until 2 a.m., as long as they are eating and accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children will also be allowed to attend licensed community events, with a parent or guardian.

The government is calling these changes a way to cut red tape and create more opportunities for Island businesses. 

Jeff Sinnott, operations manager for Red Island Hospitality Group, said the changes are long overdue. He said he's had to turn away plenty of hungry, tired families over the years — more than one a day during the summer — and lifting the 10 p.m. family curfew is a good move.

'It's great to have families travelling to be able to come in after 9 o'clock to have a meal, stay past 10 o'clock," says Jeff Sinnott, operations manager for Red Island Hospitality Group. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"A lot of families are out late. Days get longer. It's bright til almost 9:30, 10 o'clock, " Sinnott said. "So it's great to have them in at that time."

The rule change allows people under 19 to eat at pubs, if they're with an adult, but some parents said a pub is no place for young children at night.

Carol Stanley, a tourist from Saint John, N.B., said she doesn't see a need for the regulation changes.

"I don't think any children should be awake after 10 p.m.," Stanley said. "So I don't see the reason for the law."

New rules for underage performers

The new rules will also allow underage performers to entertain in bars or restaurants as long as the owner approves, rather than having to get approval from the Liquor Commission.

Julien Kitson, a 16 year-old folk singer on the Island, said he performs up to 50 times a year and sometimes at night. 

"Personally, I think it's a great thing that they're changing the rules," Kitson said. "It's definitely been a hassle trying to figure out all these forms and paperwork for playing in licensed areas."

'It's such a relief to hear that that's finally going to change. It's been an issue for years now,' says Kitson. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Kitson said playing in bars and restaurants is a great way to get exposure as a musician and he's relieved that it will now be easier for him to participate in more shows.

"All the hassle that my parents have to go through, like go to different places and people to sign these sheets of paper," Kitson said. "It's such a relief to hear that's finally going to change. It's been an issue for years now."

A spokesperson for the province said the government received over 300 requests from underage entertainers to perform in licensed establishments in the last fiscal year, adding that many involved groups or choirs with multiple members and the actual number of minors approved was much higher. 

The new rules come into effect on Saturday and the government said these changes could be the first of many. They are part of a long-term process announced last year to review the Liquor Control Act.

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With files from Brian Higgins