Pubs can only open longer if England or Scotland reach the semi-finals of Euro 2024

10 May 2024
What was claimed

Rishi Sunak has extended pub opening hours for the Euros so that celebrations can go on longer.

Our verdict

Opening hours will only be extended if England or Scotland reach the semi-finals of the competition.

Social media posts by the Conservative party failed to mention an important detail about licensing laws during the Euros, which start next month.

The first post, which appeared on X on 8 May, is captioned “Here we go”. It shows a large crowd in a football-themed bar watching a giant TV screen that has been overlaid with a mock-up of a VAR (video assistant referee) display. 

The screen initially features the words “awaiting decision”. This then changes to read: “pub hours extended for the Euros”, at which the crowd celebrates enthusiastically. 

A second post in a thread below the first one says: “This summer for the Euros, @RishiSunak is making sure pubs stay open later so the celebrations can go on longer”.

As most of the media reports point out, that extension only applies if either England or Scotland reach the semi-finals of the competition. But this detail is missing from the Conservatives’ posts. A community note has been added to one of them to point this out.

The England men’s football team did not reach the semi-final of the last international tournament it took part in, the 2022 World Cup, although it did in the two before that, at Euro 2020 (held in 2021) and the 2018 World Cup

Scotland’s men’s team did not reach the semi-final of Euro 2020, and have not qualified for the World Cup since 1998

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When might the pubs stay open?

The Euro 2024 competition begins on 14 June and ends on 14 July. The first semi-final will take place on 9 July, and the second on 10 July. This means the extended hours will at most apply on 9 and 10 July, and on 14 July if either team makes the final, but not through the whole of the summer. 

Under section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, the Secretary of State may make an order relaxing licensing hours for licensed premises in relation to a “celebration period” to mark an occasion of “exceptional international, national or local significance”, but this is limited to a maximum of four days. 

This applies only in England and Wales, as Scotland has separate licensing laws and applications for extensions are the responsibility of individual local authorities

Since the introduction of the Act, this power has been used to mark several royal occasions, including His Majesty’s Coronation on 6 May 2023, as well as sports events such as the World Cup in 2014 and the 2020 UEFA European Championship final.

We’ve contacted the Conservative party for comment. 

Image courtesy of Daniel Norin

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