Not for public consumption?

Politicians in Germany are campaigning to ban public drinking

Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Following increasing levels of disruption from imbibers, politicians in Germany are campaigning to ban public drinking. While places like Heidelberg have had success enforcing bans on alcohol sales at night, politicians in Freiburg, for instance, are having a tougher time stopping people from drinking in the streets.

In 2008, a city ban on public drinking was enforced in an attempt to quell public drunkenness and underage drinking in an area of the university town. But the local court found the ban too broad. Locals politicians haven’t given up. In an effort to resurrect the law, they argue that public drinking bans result in less crime.

Critics say public drinking bans threaten civil rights. The northern city of Kiel came up with a solution. In 2003, the city created the Sofa, a state-funded bar designed to get people off the streets and drinking in a private place. Drinkers can bring in their own beer and wine or buy it. And following seven years of success, several big cities are considering the model, including Berlin. There, a ban on drinking in public parks last year backfired: drinkers moved into the streets, closer to the homes of irritated residents.

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