VILNIUS - With the country's inaugural alcohol-free day looming Sep. 01, Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus has said he regrets not vetoing the relevant legislation when it passed over his desk in June 2007.
"Such bans make us look ridiculous. They cannot solve the problem," he said Aug 27, as reported by the Itar-Tass news agency.
"It is sheer stupidity to close restaurants and bars on trains and refuse service to foreigners just to prevent students from drinking beer on September 1," Adamkus said.
"The solution of the problem depends on us, not on laws," he added.
To mark the beginning of the new school year, alcohol sales will be banned across the country, with everyone from wedding guests to foreign tourists included in the ban.
Hotel minibars will be locked and even passengers on board ships flying the Lithuanian flag will face the prospect of a day without drink.
Members of the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants have prepared a campaign to apologize to their guests for the booze ban, which coincides with the busiest day of this year's Vilnius City Festival.
Other licensed retailers have been busy dreaming up ways of getting around the ban, which include taking money in advance, serving alcohol for free while raising the price of food and running bar 'tabs' throughout the day, asking customers to settle up on the stroke of midnight.
The legislation introducing the alcohol ban was originally passed on Nov. 9 2006, with only two MPs opposing, and was subsequently approved by Adamkus.
Worst of all for lovers of Lithuania's renopwned beers, the law states that every September 01 will be dry 's so unless lawmakers revisit the legislation and perform an embarrassing policy reversal, this year's ban will only be the first of many.