A strange story this weekend: the Czech Republic on Friday announced a full, national ban on any alcoholic beverage over 20% abv — namely, any hard spirit. The problem, which began a couple of weeks ago, is with bootleg liquor, some of which contains methanol, which is toxic to humans. So far, 20 people have died, and 36 are in critical condition.
I can’t quite understand the rationale for a blanket ban; the government says that bootleg spirits are often sold as legitimate product, which would mean it’s hard to know the true quality of that bottle of Absolut you just bought at a Prague shop. Here’s a telling detail, though:
The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says that with the number of reported deaths slowing, attention is focusing on saving those who survived drinking the tainted alcohol and finding those who bottled it in the first place.
So the idea is: prevent future poisonings, care for those afflicted, and track down the culprits. A full ban still seems like an overreaction to me, though.
The ban is expected to be temporary, but no Czech officials are speculating yet as to when it may be lifted.
Poland has now taken the step of banning spirits imports from the Czech Republic.
Thus far, police have failed to locate the source of the tainted hooch.