Prague considering ban on night alcohol sales

The proposal is in early stages and likely won't be decided until after elections

Prague city councilors will be considering a ban on sales of bottles of alcohol after 10 pm. The proposal would not affect restaurants or bars, but is intended to curb sales of boxes and bottles of wine and liquor in problematic areas. It is not clear if it would cover ottled beer.

Prague City Councilor Jan Wolf (Three-party Coalition / KDU-ČSL) is behind the idea, which is aimed at reducing noise and related problems at night.

The exact details of the proposal have not been worked out as it is in the initial stages.

“If there is a problem in Prague, it is disturbances and alcohol. The biggest disgrace is the purchase of cheap alcohol after 10 pm,” Wolf told daily Hospodářské noviny (HN).

Wolf said that he wants to discuss the idea of a ban with his fellow councilors at City Hall after the summer holidays. If there is some agreement to move forward with the idea, then the specific wording of the ban would be drawn up, including which areas would be included and what hours would be covered.

Wolf told HN that he expected other councilors to join in on the idea, but he did not expect progress until after the October elections, as the topic is controversial. The proposal, if passed, would take effect during the next tourist season.

Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) is not in favor of the idea and said it was not a step in the right direction. “Another regulation, as if we already don't have enough,” she told HN, adding that the data necessary to evaluate the proposal does not exist.

Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) was a little more receptive, according to HN. He also called for more statistics to see where the problems were. He questioned whether new restrictions were needed or if better enforcement of existing ones would solve the problems.

The Prague 1 district has already tried to address the problem of noise related to alcohol at night. Stores in Prague 1 that lease space from the city are already banned from selling alcohol between 11 pm and 6 am.

Councilor Daniel Hodek (ČSSD), who represents Prague 1, is in favor of Wolf's concept. He claims that since the smoking ban went into effect, forcing smokers onto the sidewalks in front of pubs, that parts of the city have become unlivable at night.

A ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants took effect nationwide May 31, putting the Czech Republic in line with most of the rest of the European Union. In Prague it has resulted in numerous complaints about noise at night, conflicts on the sidewalk and also about clouds of cigarette smoke going into residential windows.

Jakub Michálek, chairman of the Pirate Party, said that he hoped the ban would be properly thought out, but that he was not optimisitc. He cited the city's Segway ban, which covered whole city districts rather than just places where there was a problem. He does not oppose a ban on alcohol sales that would cover sensible places where there is actually a problem, but he does not want to see a blanket ban that covers areas where there is not problem and that could, for example, interfere with people having a quiet picnic.

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