Ban on open booze bottles to be lifted in Latvia

As a result of reforms in the justice sector, people will no longer be banned from carrying open containers of an alcoholic beverage in public in several Latvian cities as of January 1, 2020.

The Justice Ministry told the LETA newswire that it was decided already back in 2014, when work on reforming the administrative laws commenced, that carrying an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a public place would no longer be considered a violation. The decision has been coordinated with other ministries, the Justice Ministry said.

The ministry said that alcoholic beverages, unlike drugs, are not a controlled substance. Tobacco, like alcohol, is addictive and bad for health, however, smoking in public is not prohibited, except in specific circumstances.

If a person under the influence of alcohol disturbs the peace, that is and will be considered an administrative violation, the Justice Ministry stressed, but simply having an open bottle or can and taking a swig in the street will not.

At the moment, carrying an open container of an alcoholic beverage is permitted in four cities: Jelgava, Liepāja, Rēzekne and Daugavpils. In five of the other largest cities in Latvia, including Rīga, Jūrmala, Ventspils, Jēkabpils and Valmiera, this is considered an administrative violation, though the degree to which it is actually enforced varies.

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