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Bavarian late night beer, juice, only for drivers

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Bavarian late night beer, juice, only for drivers
Photo: DPA
10:02 CEST+02:00
A new interpretation of an old law means that only motorists can shop at late-night petrol stations in Bavaria – leading to the absurd rule that only people in cars can buy alcohol after the state's 8pm compulsory store closing time.

The southern state's petrol stations have long been exempt from the shop closing rule, on the grounds that travellers should be able to get what they need to complete their trip. This has made them pretty much the only option for people needing to buy food or alcohol after hours.

But now the exemption has been tightened, after an administrative court told Bavaria it had to define what was allowed – how much was “needed” – and who was a traveller. Germany's other states aren't affected due to their more liberal store opening laws.

As a result, Bavarian petrol stations are now prohibited from selling to anyone who arrives at the store on foot or by bicycle according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. And even motorists can only buy "small amounts" of refreshments, the paper reported.

For beverages that have an alcohol content between nothing and up to eight percent,such as orange juice or beer, shops may sell up to two litres per person.

For beverages with between eight and 14 percent alcohol, such as wine, only one litre is permitted per person. And hard liquor is limited to 100 millilitres per person.

Günter Friedl, the owner of the Sprint gas station in Munich-Freiman, said it would be impossible to look at a customer and tell who arrived by car. But the state isn't buying that argument.

"At night, experience has shown that the customer demand is so low that the seller can determine by looking out of the window station, if a car is at the pump or at the service station. When in doubt, it is entirely reasonable to ask," Bavaria's Social Ministry is quoted in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

If a filling station fails to turn away cyclists and pedestrians, it risks being slapped with a €500 fine.

It is "a catastrophe" for business, said Friedl, who also serves as the chairman of the Association of Bavarian Petrol Stations. The law threatens the entire retail fuelling industry with extinction, he says, because petrol station operators rely on snack sales to stay in the black.

"On gasoline, a leaseholder earns almost nothing, only an average of about 0.9 cents per litre,” he said.

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