Turkey to tighten control of alcohol sales after lockdown ban


Turkey’s government plans to make it harder for businesses to sell alcohol after it imposed a ban on sales last month as part of steps to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birgün newspaper reported.

The government will give district governors and the police the power to award and rescind licenses for selling alcohol, Birgün said on Monday, citing draft legislation prepared by the Interior Ministry. Local municipalities will have to get police approval before giving licensing permission, it said.

The legislation also envisages the formation of special committees under district governorships tasked with determining the location of drinking establishments and their opening and closing hours, according to Birgün.

Turkey’s Islamist-leaning governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has introduced inflation-busting tax increases on alcohol since it came to power in 2002. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, banned from public office in the 1990s for mixing religion with politics, is a vocal opponent of drinking and smoking.

Places selling alcohol without a license will be closed by law enforcement officers, Birgün said. Unlicensed businesses will be shut until they obtain a license, as will those who contravene selling rules, it said.

The government caused an uproar on social media after it banned alcohol sales late last month without announcing the measure officially. Supermarkets have placed tape over shelves displaying wine, spirits and beer.  The measure is due to expire on May 17, following the holy month of Ramadan and a religious holiday.



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