For papal visit, a ban on liquor permeates parts of Poland

No liquor, please. The pope's in town.

Europeans are no strangers to quaffing a glass of beer or wine, or even dabbling in spirits when the time is right, but in predominantly Catholic Poland, a ban on the sale of beer, wine and liquor has been put in place during the four-day visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

The decision, made by local governments in the cities the pontiff is visiting Warsaw, Krakow, Wadowice and Oswiecim was made as a sign of respect, and not out of draconian intent.

The ban took effect on May 25, the day Benedict arrived in the capital, Warsaw, and will not be lifted from all cities until he leaves for the Vatican on May 29.

There was no drinking allowed in Warsaw on May 25-26; hotels even emptied out mini-bars with a short note of explanation though not apology. In Czestochowa and Krakow, where Benedict was traveling on Friday, similar bans were also in place, and they will stay until Sunday.

But some areas are unaffected, including the duty free shops at Frederick Chopin International Airport in Warsaw and at the John Paul II International Airport in Krakow.

According to news reports, the ban does not extend to the pontiff himself, who will apparently be offered both red and white wine at a series of gala dinners.

And the more crafty among Poland's flock also appear to have figured a way around the ban lines at grocery stores were long in Warsaw on May 24, as customers stocked up on alcoholic provisions for the dry days to come, reports AP.

O.Ch.