French authorities in Aisne, a region in northeast France, were forced to do the unthinkable: ban the sales of alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ziad Khoury, the prefect of Aisne, announced the “ban on takeaway sales of alcohol” on Tuesday, reported ParisDepeches.
Khoury said bars restaurants and cafes had already been shuttered in the region because of the national lockdown. Courrier Picard noted that Aisne has had 22 virus-related deaths.
Khoury said during mass quarantines, alcohol consumption is expected to rise, which could lead to increased domestic violence cases.
“Excessive consumption of alcohol is likely to create increased disturbances and violence, especially within the family,” he said.
The ban drew international attention, and RT News said, Twitter users overwhelmingly thought the ban would cause more harm, than good:
“Incompetence or dictatorial will? The measure will only have negative effects: black market, withdrawal effects, bottlenecks in hospitals, etc. A curfew would prevent gatherings. You deprive people of their liberties and endanger the population,” one wrote.
Making the lockdown intolerable for alcohol addicts, who will effectively be forced into a sudden withdrawl that can entail serious health complications is incomppasionate at best, and dangerous, some noted.
“You can’t suddenly deprive an alcohol addict of alcohol, it’s dangerous!” a commenter wrote.
“It’s a shame you put people in danger and will add more trouble for caregivers! Reverse this decision as soon as possible!” another chimed in.
Some went as far as to suggest that the prefect, who is of Lebanese origin, mulls imposing the “sharia law” in the department, with the ban on the booze being just the first of many steps.
“Sharia law on the move!” a witty netizen wrote, poking fun at the name of Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche! (“Forward!”) ruling party.
After an uproar from locals and across the internet, Khoury decided hours later to temporarily halt the ban “in order to consult more widely, particularly with addiction specialists about the possible side effects of a ban,” reported The Local.
Local authorities in several other regions have enforced rules of their own on top of the nation lockdown – beaches, public areas, and citywide curfews have been imposed on citizens until March 31. The French government has already suggested if the pandemic curve does not start flattening by March 31, then there is a strong possibility that extensions could be seen.