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Drinking-in-public rules get stricter

INHABITANTS of some towns and villages may soon be forced to guzzle shots of slivovica in the privacy of their homes, since Slovakia’s municipalities will be allowed to ban alcohol consumption in public places. A revision to the law on protection from alcohol abuse, which was signed by President Ivan Gašparovič and made into law on April 12, makes such a ban possible. Under the previous law, municipalities could ban public consumption or sale of alcohol only for a couple of hours during the day, the SITA newswire reported, while the current law allows municipalities to institute day-long bans on drinking in public.

Rules for drinking in pubs remain the same.(Source: SME)

INHABITANTS of some towns and villages may soon be forced to guzzle shots of slivovica in the privacy of their homes, since Slovakia’s municipalities will be allowed to ban alcohol consumption in public places. A revision to the law on protection from alcohol abuse, which was signed by President Ivan Gašparovič and made into law on April 12, makes such a ban possible. Under the previous law, municipalities could ban public consumption or sale of alcohol only for a couple of hours during the day, the SITA newswire reported, while the current law allows municipalities to institute day-long bans on drinking in public.

Municipalities will still be free to restrict the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places, and in canteens or grocery shops, to a specific window of time during the day, according to SITA.

“The possibility for a village or a city to create an image as a place which is not friendly towards vices like drinking alcohol in public places is the right move,” said the Association of Towns and Villages of Slovakia (ZMOS) in a release, while welcoming the legislative change proposed by MPs from the ruling Smer.

The experiences of foreign countries, however, show that while the ban may prevent people from drinking in public spaces, it could simply compel them to go elsewhere and drink even more, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Office in Slovakia, Darina Sedláková, told The Slovak Spectator. She pointed out that alcoholic beverages remain accessible and easy to buy for all social and age groups.

The most important thing is to educate and inform people about the effects of alcohol, and that excessive alcohol consumption is not only damaging to one’s health, but has undesirable social and public consequences, Sedláková said.

Cities’ experiences

The municipality of Banská Bystrica fully supports the amendment, Banská Bystrica Town Hall spokesperson Filip Roháček told The Slovak Spectator, suggesting that the city has already implemented a daytime ban on public alcohol consumption.

Despite the fact that such regulations were challenged in other cities, Roháček said that Banská Bystrica discussed the rule with the Prosecutor’s Office in 2011 and managed to find a wording for the law that was in line with then current legislation.

On the other hand, Košice implemented a more general rule on cleanliness and public order, which includes an all-day ban on alcohol consumption, establishing a window during which alcohol can only be consumed in public between 3:00 and 5:00 in the morning, SITA reported.

Žilina’s mayor Igor Choma explained that his city had problems with delinquents who consumed alcohol and damaged property during hours when drinking in public is permissible. Although the police were able to stop the delinquents from destroying property, there was nothing they could do about alcohol consumption during the time in which it is permitted, according to SITA.

Peter Berecz, the head of the local police department in Rimavská Sobota, in the south of Slovakia, pointed out that some people in the town are aware of the rules and sometimes even provoke the police, as stated on Rimava.sk, Rimavská Sobota’s website.

“They know they are allowed to drink in public places and they brandish bottles mockingly to patrols when they go around,” Berecz said to Rimava.sk, adding that since the weather is warmer, the number of such cases will increase.

On average, each Slovak drank 95.8 litres of alcoholic beverages in 2010, which contained 8.8 litres of pure alcohol, in contrast to 106.9 litres in 2009, which consisted of 9 litres of pure alcohol, according to the Pravda daily, in reference to the Slovak Statistics Office.

As for whether the law could potentially help to reduce vandalism, Iveta Tyšlerová, spokesperson of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region, told The Slovak Spectator that it will have to be supported by statistical data or comparisons in order to assess the effect.

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