Czechs ban spirits after bootleg booze poisoningBy Becky Paskin
The Czech Republic has banned the sale of all spirits over 20% abv following at least 19 deaths related to poisoned alcohol.
The emergency measure was announced last night by Health Minister Leos Heger, who said the ban was effective immediately and affected all sales locations, including restaurants, hotels, stores and the internet.
It follows the government’s decision on 12 September to ban the sale of all poured spirits over 30% abv from street vendors and kiosks.
So far 19 people have died and many more hospitalised having drunk ‘bootleg vodka and rum’ laced with methanol and sold cheaply at street stands and markets.
Some of those hospitalised have become blind, while others have been placed in a medically-induced coma.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said: “It is a great tragedy and I want to assure the Czech public that the government has activated all its repressive and inspection authorities.
“As I speak, thousands of policemen, customs officers, and employees of numerous inspection authorities are in the field doing their utmost to stop the toxic alcohol from spreading any further.”
Police have reportedly tested over 5,000 litres of suspicious spirits in labs across the country during raids.
It is thought the ban could last for several weeks, affecting sales of both domestic and imported spirits considering the Czech Republic as an important market.