The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in the Dominican Republic is removing liquor dispensers from guest room minibars at its Punta Cana resort, CNN reports. A general manager told CNN the decision was made independently of the two deaths that occurred at the resort in the last year and is meant to "provide more tranquility for guests." A mini bar with soda and beer will stay in the rooms.
The deaths, which took place in July 2018 and April 2019, are two of at least 10 American deaths that have taken place in the Dominican Republic in the last year, some of which have involved liquor-one working theory, though not yet proven, is that counterfeit alcohol could be to blame.
While the string of reported deaths has understandably made tourists concerned, a US State Department official said last week there has not been an unusual spike in American deaths in the Dominican Republic-in 2011 and 2015, 15 tourists died there.
There are no current alerts posted regarding the country; it is labeled a Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution on the State Department's travel advisory page, with a note related to crime in the area: Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic. For reference, Level 1 is Exercise Normal Precautions, Level 3 is Reconsider Travel, and Level 4 is Do Not Travel. France and the United Kingdom are also currently categorized at Level 2.
The Dominican Republic's minister of tourism spoke out Friday, telling reporters it is a "safe country" and saying of the recently reported deaths, "There is not an avalanche of deaths."
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