More Czech towns restricting consumption of alcohol in public places

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A number of towns in the Czech Republic are beginning to fight back against public drunkenness, adopting restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in public places. On Thursday the town of Mladá Boleslav joined a number of municipalities which had already taken steps, passing a new bylaw that will ban drinking in selected areas - from storefronts to school entrances to playgrounds.

Public drunkenness, disorderly behaviour and related vandalism: all are all too common in parts of many towns in the Czech Republic. But increasingly, town representatives have had enough, and are taking what they see as a necessary step: introducing bylaws restricting the consumption of alcohol in public to help clean disreputable areas up. And although such secondary legislation can hardly be a cure-all, many towns with regulations already in place, say they have helped. Jaroslav Duras is a deputy mayor in Benešov, near Prague:

“We adopted a bylaw last year restricting drinking in public after having received dozens of – frankly - legitimate complaints about fellow citizens drinking in public. The problem was growing increasingly worse and we had to do something. So far, the step has been very successful: the situation has changed dramatically. The aim is not to discriminate or harass anyone but simply to provide local police with a tool. This way they can push those drinking in public to areas where it is not such a problem. Simply put, the problem is less visible.”

Benešov is just one of several towns to have actively taken steps, together with towns like Ustí nad Labem in the north of the country, Český Těšín in eastern Moravia, and now the latest Mladá Boleslav. Other towns – like Hradec Králove or Uničov - may soon join the list. Benečov’s Jaroslav Duras again:

“I think that the situation may continue to improve in the future, given how the Interior Ministry and Constitutional Court now sees the situation: our bylaw can remain in effect. Of course, the bylaw is not foolproof and some may even argue it’s hypocritical, since many drunkards are aware of restrictions to the letter and know full-well where they can remain outside and drink. But the fact is we wanted to help improve the situation, to try and prevent drinking I n public areas. In that respect the situation has definitely improved.”