London: For the first time in 90 years the timings for the last order for drinks has been lifted from the traditional 11PM to round the clock drinking.
Thousands of revelers up and down the country greeted the news with an extra drink in pubs and bars after midnight. No major untoward incident was reported.
The relaxed opening hours, already a feature in most European countries, have led to fears of increased alcohol-induced violence on the streets of England and Wales.
Pubs used to close at 11 o'clock in the evening, a tradition going back to 1915 when hours were restricted to prevent workers from turning up drunk to factories involved in arms production during World War I.
However, government figures show that most of the 90,000 pubs and bars have applied to stay open an hour or two longer, rather than permitting people to drink around the clock.
More than 1,000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets have been granted 24-hour licenses to sell alcohol, according to government figures.
Around 40 percent of premises applied to vary their licenses by either extending their opening by an hour or two or by offering late food and entertainment.
"We are determined to tackle alcohol-related violence and anti-social behavior in all its forms and crack down on those who encourage it by irresponsible retailing," said Home Secretary Charles Clarke.