Due to the 19 recent deaths that occurred from bootleg spirits, the Czech Republic has issued a country wide ban on spirits with more than 20% ABV. This type of emergency ban is unprecedented and seen as a necessary measure to help fight the recent deaths caused by methanol poisoning in bootlegged spirits
Health Minister Leos Heger announced the ban last Friday and restricted all forms of hard liquor sales including, restaurants, markets, and the internet. Heger said the ban could possibly take weeks. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of all the liquor in restaurants across the country is likely made on the black market. [Huffington]
The first batch of deaths caused from the methanol laced bootlegged spirits began a few weeks ago. On Friday, the death count rose to 19 when a 66 -year old woman was found dead at her home. There are also another two dozen or so who have hospitalized for methanol poisoning. It is believed that criminal organizations are using methanol as a cheap alternative to producing real liquor. Alcohol made from methanol is much cheaper and virtually impossible to distinguish from the real thing.
The ban for hard liquor does not cover exports however, since it authorities believe it to be a local matter.