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What time can you buy alcohol in England, Scotland and Wales?

Picnic season is coming (Picture: Getty)

With the rule of six back in effect since March 29 and Covid cases falling to their lowest since last September, many of us will be planning to get out and see friends or family again.

But with pubs still closed until at least April 12 – and those without beer gardens set to be shut for even longer – if you’ve made plans to meet up with people outdoors and need to stop off at a supermarket to pick up some supplies, are you able to pick up alcohol at any time throughout the day?  

When can you buy alcohol in England, Scotland and Wales, and what are the rules about drinking in parks or other open spaces?

Read on to find out.

What time can you buy alcohol in England?

Most supermarkets in England allow the selling of alcohol for the duration of the time they are open to the public.

There are some places, such as 24-hour supermarkets, where you can even buy alcohol 24 hours a day.

When can you buy alcohol in Wales?

Under Welsh Government rules imposed during the pandemic, alcoholic drinks can be sold between 6am and 10pm in licensed hospitality sites – in supermarkets and off-licences.

Before the change in rules, Wales followed England’s rules with regards to selling selling.

It is unclear when and if this will revert once the pandemic restrictions ease.

When can you buy alcohol in Scotland?

In Scotland the rules on purchasing alcohol are a bit stricter than in some other parts of the UK, with the 24-hour selling of alcohol not permitted.

Between 10am and 10pm, alcohol can be purchased in shops and supermarkets in Scotland.

Some shops in Scotland may also choose only to sell alcohol from 12.30pm as well.

Can I drink alcohol in public parks?

drinkaware.co.uk published guidance that states over-18s are OK to drink in public except in areas where Public Space Protection Orders are in effect.

Friends Drinking Beer in a City Park

A hangover the next day isn’t the only thing to be wary of when drinking in public spaces. (Picture: Getty)

A PSPO is sometimes referred to as an Alcohol Control Zone. There will usually be a sign indicating that you cannot drink alcohol in these areas.

The website states: ‘A Public Space Protection Order, or PSPO, is a special decree that allows police to stop people from drinking in a certain area.

‘PSPOs give police officers special powers to order a person to stop drinking alcohol in public and confiscate it from them.’

If you’re on trains or transport going to meet your friends outside, you should be mindful of where and when you can drink.

In London, Transport for London (TfL) has a policy in place that bans passengers from drinking alcohol or carrying open containers of alcohol on public transport – this includes buses, tubes and the DLR.

You can drink and buy alcohol on all other national trains across the UK.

However, operators can decide to run dry trains where you can’t consume or carry alcohol on board.

Where this happens, notices are put up in advance to warn passengers.


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