Legislation permitting 24-hour alcohol sales comes into force in England

Legislation permitting 24-hour alcohol sales becomes effective at midnight Wednesday night in England and Wales, causing some to fear increased problems related to drinking. For the vast majority of pubs, however, the new licensing laws will mean staying open only a little later. Only 700 establishments, including 240 pubs, applied for licenses for around-the-clock sales.

Until now, last call for drinks in pubs has come at 11 p.m. "The changes are not as dramatic as has been suggested, with most pubs opting to open for a few extra hours a week," said Neil Williams, spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association.

Martin Shalley, president of the British Association for Emergency Medicine, said he feared that hospital emergency rooms would be busier because of the new laws.

"We already see people who have been injured because they have drunk too much," Shalley said. "I think this is now going to occur a lot more frequently," reports the AP. I.L.

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