Cayman Islands to prohibit alcohol sales, dancing and loud music after midnight on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve revelers beware: There will be no buying of alcohol, dancing in public or playing of loud music in this Caribbean resort after the clock strikes midnight to ring in 2006.

The Cayman Islands government says a law banning alcohol sales on Saturdays at midnight will remain in effect on New Year's Eve, which, unfortunately for partygoers, falls on a Saturday this year.

If that wasn't enough, another law prohibits dancing or the playing of loud music on Sundays, meaning revelers will essentially have to call it a night one second after midnight on New Year's Eve.

Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said Wednesday he expects establishments to obey the laws, "even where persons may disagree with the decision" to enforce them on New Year's Eve.

And plenty disagree.

Harry Lalli, owner of the Next Level nightclub on Grand Cayman, said the restrictions could drive away tourists wanting to party into the wee hours at the resort's many bars and restaurants.

"You've got a lot of people coming down to the island, staying in the hotels, coming to a nice place to celebrate New Year's Eve, and now all of a sudden they're not going to be able to," said Lalli.

Another nightclub owner, Don Seymour, said the ban on booze, dancing and music could give the Cayman Islands, best known for its white sand beaches and emerald-blue waters, a more dubious distinction.

"I think we probably are the only place in the world that is not celebrating New Year's Eve _ among democratic societies, that is," Seymour said.

Violators of the laws, written to encourage people to go to Sunday church services in the conservative British territory, could lose their liquor license, be fined US$500 or be sentenced to a month in jail.

Pastor Al Ebanks, the chairman of the Cayman Ministers Association, said he didn't think the restrictions would keep people from having a good time.

"People should not see this as a stopping of their ability to enjoy themselves. Whether they choose to stay up all night or part of the night, the still have the freedom to do so," he said, AP reported. V.A.

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