Dining out no bother for minors

Recent changes to liquor laws are unlikely to prevent minors in Timaru from eating out at licensed restaurants.

Amendments to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act have meant that in some parts of the country unaccompanied minors are no longer able to dine in some restaurants due to their licence designation.

A licensed restaurant can have three possible designations - restricted, supervised and undesignated. Those designations relate to the conditions applied when someone under 18 wants to be on the premises.

Timaru District Council's environmental health manager Jonathan Cowie said all the district's restaurants holding a restaurant-style licence are undesignated.

Such a licence allows anyone of any age to be on that part of the premises.

Zest Restaurant in Timaru has an undesignated licence.

"Unaccompanied minors, under the age of 18, can come to the restaurant," Zest's manager Kristy Phillips said.

The other two designations relate to premises with a restricted licence.

That allows no one under the age of 18 to be on the premises unless they are employed to prepare or serve a meal, clean or repair, remove or replace equipment, stocktake, check or remove cash.

A supervised licence states no one under 18 can be in the area covered by the licence unless they are accompanied by their parent or legal guardian, or are employed on site.

A legal guardian is an adult who is responsible for looking after a child or children. All mothers and most fathers are automatically guardians of their child at birth. Other adults can be court-appointed guardians.

The Speights Ale House in Timaru has a supervised licence which gives parents and accompanied minors the freedom to dine in.

"We have not had any cases where we have had to turn away people because they have any unaccompanied minors with them," said Nigel Bowen, owner of Speights Ale House.

However, since the act came into being, some licensed restaurants have broken the law.

"We have had four restaurants fail a recent controlled purchase operation [sale to a minor], which resulted in a suspension of the premise licence for 48 hours and a suspension of a duty manager's certificate for one month each," said Mr Cowie.

Anyone who takes a minor into a restricted or supervised area could be fined more than $1000.

Permitting minors to be in a restricted or supervised area carries a fine of not more than $2000.

The Timaru Herald