Thailand urged to end alcohol sales ban

Thailand’s beer, wine and spirits industry has implored the government to lift a ban on alcohol sales during the national state of emergency.

Bars across Thailand were closed during a lockdown designed to stem the spread of Covid-19. Provinces then enforced a 10-day ban on all off-trade alcohol sales on April 10 in an effort to promote social distancing.

All 76 Thai provinces and the capital city of Bangkok extended the ban until Thursday, April 30, and the industry now fears it could be extended yet again.

The Thai Fruit Wine and Local Spirit Producer Association, the Thailand Bartender Association and the Thai Wine Association have now banded together to lobby for the prohibition to be lifted.

They have asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to instruct all provinces to permit takeaway and delivery sales from Thursday. They also want to see the ban on wholesale brought to an end. That would allow producers to transfer stock to retailers that have the necessary refrigeration capacity to keep the drinks fresh

The trade bodies asked the government to ease the tax burden the industry currently faces, and for assistance in managing the destruction of spoiled stock.  

The Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association has previously warned that the temporary ban has led to a rise in smuggling, bootlegging and Thais drinking unsafe moonshine.

Thailand has almost 3,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 54 deaths. Data on active cases suggests the peak of infections has passed, but authorities are cautious about lifting the lockdown.  

The country is expected to announce an extension to its state of emergency for a further month to fight the coronavirus spread. All current restrictions are due to expire on April 30, and the alcoholic beverage sector wants to be excluded from this extension.