Govt fines eatery for serving 2 minors alcoholic drinks as new law starts

2023-11-06 03:40     BY Tony Wong    Comment:0

The Health Bureau (SSM) fined a restaurant for serving two minors alcoholic drinks yesterday as the new Law on the Prevention and Control on Minors’ Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages just took effect.

The bureau organised a media briefing yesterday morning when it arranged for reporters to cover its inspectors’ work on checking whether a supermarket and two restaurants in Nape were complying with the new law. Briefing reporters after the inspections, Lam Chong, who heads the bureau’s Tobacco and Alcohol Prevention and Control Office, underlined that the new law’s enforcement is very similar to the enforcement of the existing Tobacco Prevention and Control Law.

According to the new law which took effect at 0:00 yesterday, alcoholic beverages must not be sold to minors at public venues. In addition, public venues are barred from providing alcoholic drinks to minors, either for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Alcoholic drinks regulated by the new law are defined as those containing alcohol by volume (ABV) of over 1.2 percent, meaning that minors, i.e., those under the age of 18, are still allowed to buy drinks with an ABV of up to 1.2 percent.

According to the new law, those selling alcoholic beverages to minors at public venues will be fined 20,000 patacas. The 20,000-pataca fine also covers those providing alcoholic drinks to minors at public venues for commercial purposes.

According to the new law, those providing alcoholic beverages to minors at public venues for non-commercial purposes will face a less heavy fine, ranging between 1,500 patacas and 20,000 patacas.

Lam noted yesterday that parents providing alcoholic beverages to their children at public venues will be fined 1,500 patacas.

The new law defines public venues as all those that are open to members of the public regardless of the ownership of the respective property.

The new law also bars anyone from hiring minors to sell alcoholic beverages or from telling them to serve such drinks at public venues. Offenders will also face a fine of 20,000 patacas.

Wee hours

Lam said yesterday morning that anti-alcohol inspectors fined a restaurant for providing alcoholic drinks to two minors who had a meal together in the early hours of yesterday. Lam did not reveal the minors’ gender. 

The bureau said in a statement yesterday evening that between 00:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. yesterday, its anti-alcohol inspectors detected only one violation, i.e., the restaurant which served the two minors alcoholic drinks. The bureau did not identify the eatery. 

During the 16-hour period, the statement said, law enforcement staff inspected 164 venues including shops and restaurants as well as other facilities that minors often visit.

The 16-hour inspection work indicated that businesses in the city were “complying well with” the new law, the statement said.

Lam noted that according to the law, if staff members of a business are not sure whether a prospective customer requesting to buy or order alcoholic drinks is aged at least 18, they should request the latter to present his or her ID card. If the prospective buyer refuses to display his or her ID card, the business must not sell him or her such drinks.

Lam said that as some teenagers look like young adults, some businesses might sell them alcoholic drinks without checking their ID card. Lam said that if the bureau decides to fine a business that has sold alcoholic drinks to a minor under such circumstances, the person in charge could explain the situation to the bureau. According to Lam, the bureau would accept the explanation if it concludes that it is reasonable, in which case the respective business would not be fined.

Lam noted that the existing Tobacco Prevention and Control Law also requires businesses to request a prospective buyer of tobacco products to present their ID card if they are not sure whether the buyer is aged at least 18. Lam said that the enforcement of the anti-smoking law has hardly encountered problems due to this issue since it took effect in 2012. 

Lam Chong, who heads the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Tobacco and Alcohol Prevention and Control Office, checks an officially required notice indicating the legal ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks to minors, at a shelf displaying alcoholic drinks in a supermarket in Nape yesterday. – Photo: Tony Wong

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