Toning down drunken nights

Toning down drunken nights

SINGAPORE - Residents kept awake by noisy drunkards at void decks and other public areas may soon sleep easier. Tighter controls on public drinking and the sale of alcohol are being considered.

The Government is looking into designating some public spots as no-alcohol zones, as well as shortening the retail-sale hours for booze.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and government feedback unit Reach launched a month-long public consultation yesterday to canvass views on several measures.

One is to make common areas within all neighbourhoods in Singapore - for example, void decks, playgrounds and areas near MRT stations - permanent no-alcohol zones. Another is to designate only frequent hangouts for drinkers, like the bridges along the Singapore River where youth typically congregate and drink, as temporary no-booze zones. This way, enforcement officers will be empowered to evict drinkers from such areas. The bans can be lifted when the situation at such hot spots improves.

MHA also proposed shorter sale hours for liquor at retail outlets at such zones to "reduce the availability of cheap alcohol to drinkers in the late night".

Sale hours could be cut across the board for all outlets - like supermarkets - selling booze for off-site consumption, or only for stores in problem areas. The public can also consider if cut-off times should be uniform or varied across the island.

Currently, stores in residential estates like Ang Mo Kio or commercial areas like Orchard can apply to sell alcohol round the clock.

Shops in mixed commercial and residential zones like Tanjong Pagar may be allowed to sell booze only between 6am and 3am the next day on weekdays, or from 6am till 4am the next day on weekends.

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