The government is currently considering the possibility of scrapping the ban on alcohol sales during the afternoon in order to strengthen its tourism promotion policy. According to a source from the Bangkok Post, a decision regarding this matter may be made on February 15, with implementation expected by mid-April through an announcement from the Ministry of Public Health.
The Public Health Minister, Cholnan Srikaew, is planning to request a review of the proposal to lift the ban by the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association (TABBA), as reported by the Bangkok Post. Currently, the sale of alcohol in Thailand is restricted to specific hours, from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 12am. Violating the ban on alcohol sales between 2pm and 5pm may result in penalties for shop and bar owners, including fines or even imprisonment.
TABBA recently submitted a petition to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Public Health Minister, urging them to repeal the ban. The Public Health Minister stated that if the alcohol beverage control committee agrees to lift the ban in support of the government’s tourism promotion policy, the committee will need to decide on the next steps. An announcement on the decision is anticipated on February 15 during the committee’s next meeting.
If the alcohol beverage control panel endorses TABBA’s request, the decision will then be referred to the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee for final approval. This committee is usually chaired by the prime minister or a deputy. Once the national committee confirms the cancellation, the Ministry of Public Health will issue a new announcement permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages between 2pm and 5pm.
The source mentioned that although TABBA’s proposal aligns with the government’s tourism promotion policy, it is important to implement more stringent measures to ensure the safety of the public, particularly minors, if the ban is lifted. TABBA members recognize this concern.
The goal is to expedite the revocation of the ban so that the new rules can be implemented by early April, just in time for the annual Songkran festival, as reported by the Bangkok Post, citing an unnamed source.
Thanakorn Kuptajit, an advisor to TABBA, emphasized the need for the government to address the afternoon ban in order to fully support tourism promotion efforts. He mentioned that a recent regulation by the Ministry of Interior, which allowed entertainment businesses in Bangkok, Phuket, and Chon Buri to extend their opening hours until 4am, had not benefitted these businesses due to the afternoon ban. He believes that regulations hindering tourism or being unnecessary should be adjusted to align with the government’s tourism promotion plans.
TABBA is also advocating for enhanced enforcement measures to prevent alcohol-related road accidents and the illegal sale of alcohol to individuals under the age of 20, in addition to pushing for the end of the 2pm-5pm alcohol sale ban.
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