LONDON - Chances are thirsty England fans will need to drown their sorrows instead of celebrate — but at least the pubs will be open for them during the World Cup finals in Brazil.
The British government made a U-turn on Monday and announced that it would extend famously strict last orders so that bars and pubs can screen England's matches.
Under laws usually reserved for royal occasions, pubs will stay open past the usual closing time of 11pm until 1am, to take account of the time difference for England's opening game against Italy on June 14, Home Secretary Theresa May said.
The extension does not affect England's two other group matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica which kick off at 8pm and 5pm respectively.
But the relaxation could come into force again if England reach the knockout stages — and if those matches, which kick off at 9pm, go into extra-time.
"The government has decided to relax licensing hours nationally to mark England's participation in the tournament," May said.
Prime Minister David Cameron in February overruled an earlier decision by the Home Office, or interior ministry, to turn down a request from the pub industry to push back last orders.