Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys is to extend emergency legislation that regulates and allows for outdoor seating areas on private lands next to pubs and restaurants.

The regulation sets out that alcohol cannot be sold or consumed any day after 11pm in the outdoor seating areas on such land and will come into effect today.

The minister said this was being done "in the interests of communities and with the principles of fairness".

The department has been in contact with industry groups to inform them of these measures.

From today trading hours for licenced premises return to pre-Covid norms.

The emergency legislation, which was introduced last summer for outdoor areas and due to expire on 30 November, will now cover private lands next to licenced premises.

Minister Humphreys said she now considers it appropriate to regulate the opening hours of these areas.

She said the new regulation does not apply to trading hours permitted by local authorities for the authorised outdoor seating areas in public lands or the existing conditions for trading hours attached to the licensed premises, which already includes an outdoor area within that license, and where such areas are not benefitting from the emergency Act.

"As trading hours return to normal in line with the easing of certain Covid restrictions, I have introduced a pragmatic regulation for outdoor seating areas for private land abutting the licensed premises that are covered by the emergency legislation," the minister said.

"This is in line with similar trading hour restrictions on the outdoor seating areas authorised by local authorities.

"It does not impact the trading hours attached to outdoor areas that are within the existing licensing arrangement as part of the licensed premises."