PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government has imposed an immediate ban on all exports of hard liquor to the European Union following the death of 23 people from methyl alcohol poisoning, Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Thursday.

The Czech Republic banned all hard liquor sales in shops and pubs last Friday after the poisonings believed to come from bootleg alcohol. It plans to gradually reopen the domestic market from the middle of next week, using new tax stamps and certifications of origin to secure the safe origin of drinks.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka)