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Latest covid crime: Drinking alcohol outdoors

What’s the point of this, exactly?

GOVERNMENT WILL TODAY move to introduce a regulation that will give gardaí the power to fine people who gather outside to drink alcohol.

The new fines will be separate to existing laws which already state it is an offence to consume alcohol bought in a closed container (like a bottle or can) within 100 metres of an off-licence or pub where it was sold.

The new regulation, which Cabinet are set to agree today, will be specific to Covid-19 restrictions, and will see fixed penalty fines which are far less than the existing €300 fine.

The amount of the fine will be decided by Cabinet today.

Consuming alcohol does not, of course, transmit Covid 19 or any other illness, unless by some wild chance the virus is actually floating around in your drink.

In fact, it’s perfectly possible to drink in a safe and socially distanced manner. The Government recognised this, over the summer, when it allowed restaurants and bars to offer outdoor seating.

If the problem the Government wishes to address is the fact or possibility that those who drink outdoors are less likely to engage in social distancing, then why not just be more efficient and introduce a penalty for people who are not socially distancing? It’s perfectly possible, after all, that people might gather in groups to drink things other than alcohol.

Under these regulations, for example, a group of teenagers gathered on a street corner swilling pepsi max would not be breaching the rules, but a group across the street glugging dutch gold would be subject to a fine.

In other words, it’s not an anti-covid law, it’s an anti-alcohol law dressed up as an anti-covid law.

And there’s been a lot of those kinds of law, hasn’t there?

And in any case, this law will be extremely easy to breach. Our politicians, clearly, have a lot to learn from teenage girls and their habit of pouring their naggins of vodka into bottles of coca cola. What’s a Garda going to do if he suspects that a group of people aren’t really just drinking coca cola? Taste the contents of the bottle? Sorry, I suspect that you are drinking alcohol in breach of the regulations against spreading covid – can I just take a swig of that bottle full of your saliva?

It’s largely unworkable, if the public want to make it unworkable. If you simply avoid drinking your alcohol from labelled containers, then bob’s your uncle.

And of course, it’s not really being introduced as part of any serious effort to stop the spread of covid. It’s being introduced largely to placate and mollify the troupe of people on the internet who’ve decided to pass the lockdown by becoming amateur public prosecutors, demanding action in relation to every video of young people enjoying themselves in apparent (and note the word “apparent”) breach of the existing regulations. The point of the law is to crack down on fun in order to appease people who are upset that other people are having fun when they themselves are not.

In that spirit, we’ll probably have a ban on swimming in the sea, next:

If you’re looking for a reason, or a point to this new law, it’s not hard to find one: Killjoys vote.

Anyway, we can all relax – this is just a temporary measure, and we can look forward to this law being repealed just as soon as the Covid crisis is over.



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