“Last call for alcohol, last call for alcohol, last call for alcohol.” An announcement I heard many a time in my youth. Typically night clubs, bars, lounges, pubs closed at 1 or 2am and it was common place for patrons to hear last call and we knew it’s time to wind down alcohol intake by grabbing your last cold beverage.
At exact closing time all lights were switched to their brightest for you to find your date, shoes, and friends. This is the time you get to see your dancing partner you’ve been slow wining all night and determine whether he or she is worth revealing your real name and contacts :-). With all music off and lights on, patrons are pointed out the doors with tall big chested staff (bouncers) yelling at anyone dragging their feet or hanging around the parking lot saying, “you ain’t gotta but you’ve got to get the hell outta here.” By 3AM the floor and parking lot have been all but cleared and cleaned up, prepared for the next evening.
Why (Last Call for Alcohol)?
Last call for alcohol was initiated in the U.S. to strike a balance between the alcohol industry, restaurant, bar and club owners with law enforcement, local security and organizations like MADD – (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
Prior to this, establishments were open into the wee hours of the morning and experienced an increase in violence, emergency room visits due to alcohol-impaired driving and motor vehicle collisions, and the most common mother of all domestic violence. They all came to agreement that the impact of alcohol consumption certainly are valid, and unlimited hours exacerbate the situation. All parties agreed to a partnership bringing together the alcohol industry, restaurant, bar and club owners with the law enforcement to make sure there’s a balance without affecting the economy.
Accountability of Public Safety
We all know, before you operate a motor vehicle in any country, you MUST obtain a driving permit/license. With it, you acknowledge and agree to abide with all rules and regulations governing the roads. You also accept total liability that may occur while operating vehicle. Violating road rules may result in criminal citation and revocation of your permit.
Currently, liability of selling alcohol and falls only on law enforcement i.e. police. Moreover an increase in demand for law enforcement impacts their limited time and resources, which could be devoted to more urgent matters pertaining to community safety and security.
I believe it is time we hold hotel, bar and club owners liable for incidents produced by un-regulated sale and consumption of alcohol. I stand corrected, but I think anyone with a countertop, couple benches (with deemed red lights) can sale and serve alcohol anytime! The small shop turned bar from afternoon until whenever in our neighborhoods are the worst culprits. I’ve encountered some men staggering home in broad day light and at night. On August 4th, at about 3am in the morning on the way from celebrating Intsinzi, I encountered a young lady too drunk to walk on her own, surrounded by four guys looking over their shoulders. I wondered what were they worried about and prayed nothing happened to her. I’ve heard stories of people being killed by too much drinking, especially in rural areas thanks to the unregulated local brew and “sealed well.” Sealed well is even driving people, especially the poorest among us. These aren’t even checked by Rwanda Bureau of Standards. Many have died at the hand of drunk drivers – I say many because 1 life lost is one too many. What wake up call do we need to bring about some change?
It is time our policy makers put in place policies that regulate the sale of alcohol for the sake of public safety. This will allow law enforcerment to monitor and regulate the consumption of alcohol. Our local government structure is one which can help monitoring and regulation from the village level to collaborate with Police people and publicly safely thrive in Rwanda.
Licensing premises that sale, serve, alcohol.
Licensees grant law enforcement i.e. public health inspectors and police access to the licensed premises, without warning regardless time of day to insure public safety. They ensure the following:
- Hours of sale: The sell, serving and consuming of alcohol in a licensed establishment, at any time, should be prohibited and may result in penalty and fines. It’s a duty of a public health inspector or any other law enforcement officers to ensure alcohol is not consumed on a licensed premise outside the legal hours of sale. As matter of fact, that’s why patrons are given “a last call for alcohol” notice to inform customers that the selling, serving and consuming of alcoholic beverages is about to end.
- Enforcement and Sanctions: law enforcement agencies monitor licensed establishments to ensure alcohol is not sold during prohibited hours. A criminal citation can be issued if law officials find the licensee, employees or patrons guzzling in a licensed establishment during that time.
- The violation of selling, serving or allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises during prohibited hours can punishable by a criminal fine. Penalties may include civil penalty or a 30 days license suspension.
- Licensing premises that sale, serve, alcohol insures the public safety. A bar owner that sell and serve alcohol MUST acknowledge and agree to abide with regulation that protect the public safety and also accept total liability that may occur while operating. (Just like a Driver’s permit). If you serve alcohol to your customer until dawn, who barely can stand up but he’s looking for car keys without bar staff intervention, then a bar or club owner must be liable of incidents by occur while drive drunk.
Cooperation between law enforcement officials, will warrant public safety, especially for patrons who have no self control to know when they’ve had enough and/or need to rest for a better tomorrow.
We do have establishments who are great examples doing the right thing and their businesses are growing. For example, CHOMA’D only allows patrons above 21 years old after 7:00pm. They also close at 10:30pm with a last call at 10:00pm during weekdays and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday they close at 2:00am, with a last call at 1:30am. Another exemplary establishments is Trophies, doesn’t allow those under 21 and closes at 1:00am with a last call for alcohol at 12:30am. Both of these are owned by youth. Therefore I ask, why can’t others establishments big or micro, not follow this good example for the sake of public safety.
We can do better, and I hope we shall swiftly.