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No limits Booze ban for rubber dinghy revellers to be lifted

A number of waving people in swimwear in red rubber dinghies

Every summer, Swiss rivers fill up with people cooling off on rubber boats.


Connoisseurs of the regular Swiss summer pastime of drifting down rivers on rubber dinghies will most likely no longer have to watch what they drink. Regulations are set to change in the next few years, lifting the alcohol limit on people using small water craft.

Parliament has backed a proposal to lift the limit partly because it is impractical to enforce. Every summer Swiss rivers and lakes fill up with people cooling off on a variety of rubber boats. 

Alcohol regularly plays a part in this pursuit, but keeping track of how much everyone has drunk has proved a difficult task.

The Federal Office of Transport has proposed amending statutes governing alcohol consumption that currently stipulates the same limit for rubber dinghies and large boats. 

Exceptions will soon apply to craft shorter than 2.5 metres, beach boats, canoes, racing rowing boats, windsurfing and kiteboards and non-motorised rubber boats up to four metres in length. The change is expected to be introduced in 2020.

But there is a darker side to water sports. Between 2007 and 2016, 448 people drowned in Switzerland, according to official statistics. Some 48 died in boating accidents and 166 while swimming in rivers and lakes.

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