Russia is considering implementing minimum prices for draft beer to tackle alcohol sales after 11pm, targeting businesses that are currently bypassing the ban. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has proposed this initiative, specifically focusing on cafes and restaurants. Presently, small cafes in residential areas can legally sell low-alcohol beverages throughout the night due to their classification as catering facilities. This loophole allows cafe owners to avoid the prohibition on alcohol sales between 11pm and 8am. Some of these establishments have been causing disturbances for local residents by hosting late-night gatherings.
A representative from the Trade Ministry highlighted that the introduction of minimum prices for beverages sold by the glass could discourage inconsiderate consumers from gathering at these establishments during the late hours and disrupting the peace of citizens.
Currently, small cafes can sell draft beer for 70–80 Russian rubles per liter (approximately $0.80). Lawmakers believe that implementing minimum prices would increase the cost of drinks, leading to a decrease in the number of customers frequenting such establishments.
This move comes as part of the Russian government’s ongoing efforts to regulate alcohol consumption and reduce its negative effects on society. The ban on alcohol sales after 11pm aims to address concerns about public order, health issues, and domestic violence associated with excessive drinking.
Authorities have previously implemented various measures to combat alcohol-related problems, including increasing excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and imposing restrictions on advertising and sales. Minimum prices for draft beer can be seen as another step in this direction.
Critics argue that implementing minimum prices could have unintended consequences. They suggest that it may lead to an increase in illegal sales and the consumption of higher-strength alcoholic beverages. Additionally, some worry that this policy could negatively impact small businesses, making it difficult for them to compete.
Nonetheless, the government believes that setting minimum prices for draft beer is a necessary measure to prevent businesses from exploiting loopholes and to ensure compliance with alcohol sales regulations. This move is expected to contribute to a safer and healthier social environment in residential areas, reducing disturbances caused by late-night gatherings at cafes.
It remains to be seen how this proposal will be implemented and the impact it will have on businesses and consumers. As the Russian government continues its efforts to combat alcohol-related issues, the focus will undoubtedly be on striking a balance between promoting responsible consumption, protecting public health, and supporting the interests of the hospitality industry.