BANGKOK — In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officials in 19 provinces nationwide as of Friday have enacted a ban on the sale of alcohol, purportedly to prevent parties during the upcoming Thai New Year.
Friday is Bangkok’s first dry day until April 20, the beginning of a 10-day ban on the sale of alcohol, and 16 other provinces are facing a similar ban throughout April.
Any “loophole” that involves running to Bangkok borders just to snatch up a crate of booze was closed Friday when Samut Prakan governor Chatchai Utaipan announced a provincial alcohol ban starting Saturday until April 20.
Samut Sakhon also enacted a booze ban starting Friday to April 20.As of press time, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani have not laid down the hammer yet, but don’t keep your hope up.
Meanwhile, Nakhon Ratchasima residents are buying alcohol by the crate after Governor Wichian Chantaranothai announced an eight-day alcohol ban starting Saturday to April 18, with a stated aim of deterring people from imbibing during Songkran.
“As soon as people heard about the ban, so many customers came in today, buying liquor and beer by the crate. I suppose people are stockpiling them for Songkran,” Passawut Siri-amphankul, manager of Seriwat Alcohol shop in Korat city, said Friday.
Passawut’s shop employees were taking the temperature of all of their customers rushing in Friday, before the shop is set to close for more than a week.
“Before this, our customers dwindled to about 50 percent of what we had before since many restaurants, pubs, bars, and other entertainment venues that purchased with us did not order,” Passawut said. “Only a few wholesale stores and regulars dropped by.”
Many provinces adopted alcohol sale bans following reports of coronavirus infection. Sakon Nakhon banned the sale of alcohol starting March 31 and will last until April 16 after they reported 12 confirmed cases.
Buriram’s ban from April 2 to 30 cited that 13 people in Buriram who were infected with COVID-19 were both travellers and “those who caught the disease from gatherings, drinking alcohol, and social activities such as ceremonies where a lot of people participate and are at risk of infection.” All ceremonies cannot be held, with the exception of funerals which still need permission from the local district office.
Punishments for breaking the booze ban are punishable by one year in jail and a fine of 100,000 baht in Bangkok, and breaking the emergency decree is punishable by two years in jail and a fine of 40,000 baht.
Here’s a handy list of how long the alcohol ban will last until across various provinces:
April 16: Sakon Nakhon
April 18: Nakhon Ratchasima
April 20: Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Chiang Mai, Maha Sarakham (booze and cigarette sales allowed during 11am to 2pm)
April 30: Nakhon Pathom (convenience stores only), Lamphun, Phitsanulok, Surin, Buriram, Rayong, Chai Nat, Suphan Buri, Samut Songkhram, Nakhon Phanom (sales allowed from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 6pm)
No date end date announced yet: Chonburi (sales allowed during 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 6pm), Phetchaburi (only restaurants can sell alcohol)