Prague closer to setting last call

A proposed decree would fix times to shut bars in some streets

The Prague City Council discussed a draft proposal to limit the hours of pubs, bars and clubs in some locations. The proposal was put forward by the Prague 1 district, which has long been complaining of noise from bars.

The idea is already common is some parts of the world and is variously called bar time, last call or last orders.

The proposal now will get comments from city districts before a final version potentially could be approved to take effect by the City Council.

The draft of the Decree on Restricting Operating Hours of Guest Facilities calls for bars and clubs to be closed in some of the most popular city streets no later than 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays and before working days at 3 am. The start of opening hours is set at the earliest at 6 am.

Demands for a legally established bar time date back to at least 2014.

The proposal calls for bar time to affect Dlouhá, Dušní, Jakubská, Kozí, Malá Štupartská, Masná, Michalská, Rybná and V Kolkovně streets.

City districts, in their comments, can add streets in their areas where the restrictions would also become valid.

Prague 1 authorities say its long-term analysis shows those mentioned streets are where the worst situation with night noise and disturbances of public order occur due to the unlimited hours of roughly 100 local night-time businesses. Many of them stay open until the morning.

"Some streets of Prague 1, unfortunately, turned into a big club during the night, and have more noise than in the day. The alcohol tourists and people who seek entertainment during the late night and early hours of the morning shift from one night spot to the other, screaming in the streets and not realizing that people live in the nearby houses, small children and seniors sleep, and local citizens need get up in the morning to go to work,” Prague 1 Deputy Mayor and City Councilor Daniel Hodek (ČSSD) said on the City Hall website.

“These people have long-term health problems due to lack of sleep. They are moving out of Prague 1, and our beautiful center is slowly being depopulated. Citizens write us petitions, and complaints about the state of the streets at night are an everyday routine. This is also contributed to by so-called shared accommodation, which brings us to more alcoholic tourists, for which newer and newer bars are opened in the center,” he added.

“The decree on limited operating hours in the most problematic locations could at least partially calm the situation,” he said, adding that he wanted an open discussion in City Hall on the issue.

The draft decree is based on findings of the Constitutional Court stating that companies can be held accountable for events in nearby public spaces due to their actions. This creates the possibility for the municipality to impose obligations on nightlife facility operators.

Other areas also have noise problems. “I believe that this [decree] will be welcomed by Prague 2, which in the past has asked for a similar decree. The City Council rejected the proposal at that time,” Hodek said.

There are other benefits as well, he maintains. “It is also important for us to realize that limiting the operating time of night-time businesses in the most frequented locations will give us far greater possibilities to prepare for the morning cleaning of the streets, and this area will be more easily monitored by the police. The decree can be used to solve similar problems in other districts,” he said.

“We have also communicated with a number of operators of night-time establishments in Prague 1, and I was surprised that many of them do not object to this decree. Many said it would make things simpler because their clientele in the morning is often not very beneficial, but just the opposite,” he added.

The idea of bar time is common in many countries. “It is also clear from our research that limitations of business hours or the number of businesses or tightly structured licensing systems are already routinely working in many countries," Hodek said.

Restrictions on the operating hours of night-time businesses are applicable due to local or national laws, for example, in all or parts of Australia, the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

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