Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has attracted widespread criticism for banning alcohol sales during a full coronavirus lockdown, is now seeking to restrict the sale of the alcoholic beverages further, according to a report in the Birgün daily on Monday.
The AKP presented a bill to parliament as a part of which retailers intending to sell alcohol will be obliged to get a permit from the police.
These businesses will be allowed to open for business only after they get the necessary permit from the police and the governor’s office. It is currently the municipalities that grant liquor licenses to new businesses.
In the draft legislation, retailers that sell alcohol are described as “problematic” areas that disrupt the public peace.
According to the draft text, any business that sells alcohol and was opened without approval can be closed by the police, and any local government that fails to impose fines on “illegally opened” liquor stores will also be fined.
Moreover, any business that continues operations after its closure will be fined increasing amounts and prohibited from operating until they are able to obtain a license.
The AKP government came under fire after it announced an alcohol ban during a 17-day lockdown, which began on April 22, with thousands of secular Turks accusing AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of trying to force his Islamic values on the nation by way of a ban that has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic. A hashtag # alkolümedokunma (Don’t touch my alcohol) became the top trending item on Twitter when the ban was first introduced.
The government of Erdoğan, a vocal opponent of alcohol and tobacco consumption, has regularly raised taxes on the products at far above the rate of inflation since it came to power in 2002.