Press Releases

12. 9. 2012 22:32

Sale of spirits by street stands banned until further notice

The Ministry of Health has imposed an extraordinary measure in an effort to put a stop to a methanol-poisoning emergency. As announced by Minister Heger today, the ministry has banned street stands from serving poured alcohol until further notice.

Tisková konference po jednání vlády, 12. září 2012"Until further notice, the operators of street stands, refreshment stands, mobile stands, and other mobile and temporary outlets are banned from selling poured spirits and from selling liquors of the spirit and domestic rum type with alcohol volume over 30%," announced today Minister of Health Leoš Heger. The full text of the extraordinary measure taken by the government has been posted on the official bulletin of the Ministry of Health and on the public bulletins of regional public health authorities.

"It is a great tragedy and I want to assure the Czech public that the government has activated all its repressive and inspection authorities," said Prime Minister Petr Nečas after a meeting of his Cabinet. "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," declared the premier, adding that the police are currently implementing measures to enforce the ban.

According to the emergency task force, there is no need at the present time to impose the Crisis Management Act and declare a state of emergency. The crisis can be resolved by the extraordinary measure announced by the health minister. According to Heger's statement to the media, the conditions for declaring a state of emergency have not been fulfilled.

Heger advised all persons experiencing any problems and exhibiting symptoms of poisoning to visit the nearest health facility. At the same time, he issued a warning against the consumption of suspicious alcohol and asked the public as well as governors and mayors to help in resolving the crisis. "I want to use this opportunity to urge regional governors to cooperate actively with the directors of public health authorities," Heger said at a press conference. He also invited mayors to get trade-licensing authorities involved in the effort.

The Ministry of Health announced the extraordinary measure in accordance with Section 80 (1) (g) of the Act on Protection of Public Health (258/2000 Coll.). The main coordination role in the management of the crisis at the regional level will be played by directors of regional public health authorities who will be assisted by officials from the regional branches of the Czech Police, the Fire Rescue Corps, the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, the Customs Service, and the Czech Trade Inspection. The task force has also recommended the presence of a regional representative.

Competent authorities will continue to meet and seek a solution

Sometime today, the director of public health will announce a meeting of the emergency task force. "The government has convened an ad hoc meeting to deal with the alcohol poisoning emergency," reported Minister Heger. Further inspection measures will be determined, including a list of locations to be inspected and corrective measures to be taken. Another interdepartmental meeting will be held Thursday morning at the Ministry of Health, where information collected in the regions will be assessed and additional measures will be taken. "The task force met for the first time today, and the Cabinet has acknowledged information it has provided," explained the health minister.

At the beginning of today's press conference, the prime minister expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the methanol crisis, and sympathies with all those who have suffered permanent health damage as a result of the poisoning.

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Toxicology Information Center

Members of the public or healthcare professionals who want to inquire about recommendations made by the Toxicology Information Center are urged to contact Sergey Zakharov by telephone at +420 224 91 92 93, +420 224 915 402 or by e-mail at tis@vfn.cz, Sergey.Zakharov@vfn.cz. For details visit http://www.tis-cz.cz.

Additional Information

Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, Tel.: +420 224 972 166, Vlastimil Sršeň, e-mail: tis@mzcr.cz.

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