BANGKOK — Representatives from the Thai Chamber of Commerce told the authorities that they’re worried about a possible lifting of alcohol sales in restaurants by Dec. 1, since it could lead to a new surge in coronavirus infections.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce raised their concern with Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang and other City Hall officials during an online meeting to discuss the Nov. 1 re-opening to vaccinated tourists from 46 approved countries and territories, as announced by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.
When Prayut laid down the guideline for the reopening earlier this month, he also pledged to “consider” allowing alcohol to be sold again in dining establishments by Dec. 1, though there has been no confirmation about the matter so far.
But Chamber of Commerce chairman Sanan Angubolkul said the resumption of alcohol sales may come with risks of coronavirus outbreaks. Officials responded to his concerns by stressing that precautions will be put in place prior to any lifting of the alcohol ban.
One proposal discussed at the meeting was to initially only allow the sale of alcohol at businesses with the “SHA Plus” accreditation given by the public health ministry.
The alcohol ban remains in place even as the vaccine rollout is already covering large parts of Bangkok’s population, with 75.5 percent having received both doses as of this week.
With the Nov. 1 reopening fast approaching in just a few days, a number of businesses and politicians are calling on the government to quickly lift all the restrictions on alcohol sales in the country.
For instance, members of the opposition Move Forward Party said a dry reopening will further damage the country’s reputation as a tourism destination, and may leave a lot of foreign travelers upset at the lack of entertainment and nightlife that made Thailand famous around the world.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the president of the Thai Hotels Association, also told the media that alcohol is not just for hard partiers but, in many cultures, it’s a natural part of relaxing on holiday.
Marisa suggested allowing drinking alcohol in hotels as a starting point, while others suggested reopening socially distanced bars and pubs.