Expat drinkers in Vietnam dismayed at early closing proposals

Published:  21 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, England
The recently announced proposal that watering holes in Vietnam should close between 22:00 and 06:00 is causing dismay amongst expats living and working in the Southeast Asian country.

The prohibition on the sale of alcohol from as early as 22:00 is believed to have been brought about by health concerns within the government, a concern not exactly shared by a good number of Westerners working in the Communist state. Some are suggesting that the effect of such an early closure of popular bars will be excessive drinking earlier in the evening and more drunks on the streets.

It’s been suggested that throwing expats who've been used to drinking till late out of bars might result in violence and even police involvement, not the best idea as regards peaceful co-existence in a foreign country. One British expat pointed out that, back in the day, UK law forced all pubs to close at 23:00, a law mostly ignored by shutting the doors and allowing drinking to continue out of sight of prowling police.

When the law was changed to allow 24/7 opening hours, Britain’s streets saw drunken riots late at night and hospital casualty departments were overrun by injured drunks. Even so, defenders of the law claimed that earlier closing time encouraged binge drinking, increasing the chances of alcoholism and damage to health.

Many expats in Vietnam believe that some control of drinking hours is necessary, but feel it should be introduced gradually over a period of years, together with advice on sensible drinking habits. Stopping the sale of alcohol in small local shops, they say, is good, but bars should be allowed to keep serving until late as an outright ban would result in loss of business for local people and an end to the popular nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City.
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