Pub owners respond to closing time proposal

Voluntary steps may limit some late-night pub crawls

Prague City Hall, in cooperation with the Town Hall of Prague 1, is considering creating a decree that would set the closing time of bars in and around Dlouhá Street and other problem areas.

The members of the group SOHO Prague, composed of 92 local entrepreneurs, 49 property owners and 168 residents, oppose this step and favors other, less restrictive measures. The group is currently gathering signatures for a petition.

SOHO is also taking voluntary steps to limit pub crawls, as they are one of the causes of street noise.

Jan Mulač, who manages several Prague pubs including Cafe 80’s, claims that closing time will not solve the problem, but just shift it.

“We argue that any limitation of opening hours will not help anything. It will only mean that the masses of people will roll out into the streets and the ‘party’ will continue.

Tourists will either stay on the street or go to rented houses and the party will continue somewhere where there is no soundproofing or security,” he told Prague.TV, adding that increasing police presence would help to keep the noise down.

He said the association knows of the problem and some measures have already been taken. “We have agreed not to support agencies that run pub crawls. Newly, we started to try out the entrance fee on Fridays and Saturdays after 11 pm with the aim of reducing the movement of people between businesses. When people pay for something, they will remain, and should not crawl in the streets,” he added.

The problems are not just on Dlouhá Street, though, and the city is looking to make restrictions in other areas. The Podskalí neighborhood between Jiráskův most and the Railway Bridge, Rašínovo nábřeží and the connecting Trojská Street has also become a center of late-night noise and will be included in the decree.

On Trojská Street, the opening hours would be from 6 am to midnight, with the exception of the last and the first day of the year.

Other cities that tried similar regulations have backtracked on them, according to SOHO.

Prague’s Night Mayor Jan Štern, though, said that Amsterdam simply modified the strategy to have different closing times in different areas, so the streets aren’t flooded at once with people, and also to allow some 24-hour licenses outside the historical center.

Stopping people from leaving bars at closing time and drinking on the sidewalks could be stopped by limiting the hours that late-night shops in the affected areas can sell bottled alcohol.

Another measure being considered for Prague that worked in Amsterdam is not allowing taxis or cars from non-residents on weekends from 10 pm to 3 am into problem areas. Prague will try this on the last three weekends of April.

The city in the past tried to have a night patrol in the Dlouhá area, but it proved ineffective and was canceled after a trial run. Public signs asking people to be quiet at night also have had no effect. A public noise meter made things worse, as crowds would gather to see how high they could make the level rise.

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