Alcohol prohibition in the Czech Republic

The sale of alcohol containing more than 20% alcohol was banned starting September 14, 2012 in the Czech Republic. This is a partial prohibition.

Health Minister Leoš Heger announced an order prohibiting the sale of spirituous beverages containing more than 20 percent alcohol in all shops, restaurants, bars, discos, gas stations, and internet sales too. This kind of alcohol disappeared from the shelves in shops and bars. Restaurants even had to hide or completely rewrite their menus to not offer alcohol contianing over 20% alcohol. Violations can lead to fines of up to 3 million Czech crowns.

What is allowed:
beer, wine, liqueurs (egg, fruit, cream), cherry brandy, mead, flavored wine, vermouth, flavored spirits type Yeltsin and Berentzen, alcopops (lemonade mixed with spirits, usually around 5% alcohol)

What is prohibited:
whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, spirits of burnt fruit (apricot, pear, plum), vodka, cognac, absinthe

Prohibition of alcohol sales is temporary and it is assumed that in a few weeks will be withdrawn. It is important to note that the sale of alcohol containing more than 20% alcohol is prohibited, but it´s consumption at the home is not prohibited. Spirituous beverages with more than 20% alcohol that people have at home can legally be drank.

The prohibition on the sale of alcohol by the Czech government follows a series of methyl-alcohol poisonings. The first case of alcohol poisoning was recorded 6th September 2012, when a married couple died after drinking poisoned alcohol bought at a stall. Since then further cases of harmful alcohol poisoning have been recorded in the Czech Republic. To date 22 people have died of methyl-alcohol poisoning and another 33 people have been hospitalized in critical condition in hospitals throughout the Czech Republic. Doctors were able to save only one man who will still suffer from blindness and other lifelong consequences.

The police of the Czech Republic are working on all cases and therefore assembled a special team called "Methyl", which deals with the whole cause. Hygienists have performed thousands of inspections in shops and restaurants all across the country. Police officers monitor compliance with the ban in various places. The vast majority of operators of shops and restaurants removed the banned alcohol, but there are still a few cases where operators who ignored the ban were found.

Police have found a source of harmful alcohol and now seek to uncover the whole distribution network, which is very difficult to find because the alcohol was distributed through illegal methods. Already 23 people have been charged by the Police for bodily harm by negligence. They face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Cases of poisoned people are steadily increasing. People panic and bring samples of alcohol to hospitals to be tested.

International media such as CNN and BBC broadcast to the world about the prohibition in the Czech Republic.

This article summarizes the available information to 10 AM on September 18, 2012.