Even Għarb, Gozo’s sleepy village, is banning public drinking

Nine Maltese villages, from St Julian’s to Għarb in Gozo, now ban consumption of alcohol in public

Għarb: No public drinking allowed here...
Għarb: No public drinking allowed here...

More local councils are joining in a silent campaign to curb public drunkenness by enacting fines for consumers of alcohol outdoors and who are not seated at a designated area for bars and restaurants.

Even in the silent quarters of Għarb in Gozo, which hosts just two restaurants along its main and bills itself as a dementia-friendly village due to its ageing population... a €70 fine awaits those caught drinking out in the street.

Originally, it was St Julian’s that struck out on its own with a bye-law in 2008 intended at inflicting a €65 fine on anyone caught drinking in a select number of streets inside and just off Paceville. The bye-law intended at curbing on the public nuisance of clubbers and other partygoes drinking outside bars or clubs with cheaper alcohol bought at nearby bottle-shops.

Since then, more villages have joined St Julian’s, whose amended bye-law now covers all its streets and not just Paceville.

Gżira, whose seafront is now replete with restaurants and bars, became the second local council to introduce a €70 fine on public drinking after reports of rowdiness outside bars catering to late-night workers in the town’s growing office areas.

Both Marsa and Ħamrun, councils that have complained over drunken and disorderly migrant workers living in cheap housing and a nearby asylum reception centre, have enacted the €70 fines in 2017 and 2019 respectively. In 2020, Msida followed suit, and since then Isla and St Paul’s Bay have enacted the €70 fines. The Gozitan capital Victoira also enacted a bye-law.

Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manché had said his local council wanted to “make the streets safe” by banning alcohol consumption in public spaces, complaining that punters were blocking shop entrances and pavements while drinking. “It’s unfair that people are being forced to walk on the street because many, who are consuming alcohol outside shops and bars occupy the entire pavement,” he had said.