Penalties governing the sale of alcohol to minors should be raised substantially to a level that constituted a real deterrent, as had been announced by government in May this year, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said.

In a statement it said it has continued discussions with the government for the revised regulations concerning the sale of alcohol through the bottle shops to be concluded and published.

It is also in talks with the government regarding a revision of regulations governing the sale of alcohol to minors. To properly address the problem of ease of access to alcohol, especially to minors; the regulations needed to be sufficiently revised and effectively enforced, it said.

MHRA said that uncontrolled behaviour, particularly in areas of entertainment, was often fuelled by excessive alcohol consumption and drug consumption.

"The ease of access to alcohol and affordability especially to minors, is a major cause for disorderliness.

"In fact the European Commission is currently examining a number of factors following a European Alcohol and Health Forum held last April, and has just commissioned a study to evaluate affordability issues and access to alcohol.

MHRA said that the regulations concluded in March but then suspended, took place after a very long process of consultation with stakeholders, and MHRA felt that it was now high time for them to be concluded, published and enforced.

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