Monday, May 16, 2005

Further Investigation Reveals That...

In Wellington a business has to apply for a licence to use part of a footpath area. One of the requirements is to have public liability insurance of at least $1 million. If alcohol will be served, a further application is required to include the outside area in the premise's liquor licence.

In central Wellington, there is the added snag of Consolidated Bylaw 23.2.1, which prohibits the consumption of liquor in public areas of the central city between 8pm and 6am, Friday and Saturday. The city Council's information on applying for use of footpaths warns that, without the appropriate licence, "your patrons may be in breach" of this prohibition.

The council's "On the Town" food safety and environment newsletter for December 2004 - sounding rather like an Indian mother advising her daughter how to catch a husband - provides some insight into its expectations:

Providing a good look

With summer officially here, we will see a lot more outdoor dining on our streets...
...It is important for the image of both your business and Wellington City that these outside dining areas are kept in a clean and inviting state. The Council’s Environmental Health Team often field complaints from the public about the untidy condition of outside dining areas, unkempt tables and messy surroundings. Customers will get an impression of your business by the way the outside area looks. You should ensure that you clear tables promptly and keep the area around tables and chairs clean and tidy. Making your business attractive helps keep the city attractive.

In another section, more detail is provided about who can serve drinks outside:

Pavement permissions in the liquor ban area

A number of premises have been granted permission by the District Licensing Agency to have tables and chairs on the pavement. This enables customers to enjoy alfresco dining as well as accommodating smokers when the Smokefree legislation comes into force on Friday 10 December 2004. There are a few monitoring issues that should be considered while your patrons are utilising the pavement area.
These include:
  • which staff are responsible for ensuring that persons are not intoxicated or minors are not being supplied liquor in the outdoor area

  • whether processes are in place to ensure that dirty dishes and glasses are cleared regularly and any rubbish such as serviettes, cigarettes and dirty ashtrays are removed so they don’t litter the footpath and street

  • whether signs or information are available to customers using the pavement area to ensure that liquor is not
    removed from that area other than going into the actual premises.

The last point is particularly important because of the liquor ban that is in force in the central city on Friday and Saturday nights until 6am the following day. The approved outdoor area does not contravene the liquor ban area, however, should your area suddenly increase in size without approval or customers leave the area with their drinks, then this would be a breach of the ban.

Aha! So now we have some insight into what rules Kitty O'Sheas might have fallen foul of. You're left wondering whether there were not "processes in place" to clear dishes and glasses, leaving the area "unkempt" and "messy" (though this pretty much describes Courtenay Pl on a Friday anyway). Or did their area "suddenly increase in size without approval"? A brief local distortion in space-time, perhaps, that hadn't been vetted by the council's envorinmental safety team?

Either way, you can now be unkempt, drunk, messy, disorderly, suddenly increase in size, or all of these simultaneously, and you can even do it outside Kitty O' Sheas. You just can't sit down quietly at a table with your drink.

Land of the free...?

But if you assume that excessive regulation and the interfering/nannying/etc state is a recent phenomenon, it's instructive to read about these 19th-century laws which have survived on the statute books in various states of the U.S.

For example, in Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. In Montana, it's illegal for unmarried women to go fishing alone. Texas, it's illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.

Ahhh, so that's where the practice of lying down drinking out of the hose from the beer keg came from...

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