Socialising over drinks banned, deemed risky behaviour

Socialising over drinks banned, deemed risky behaviour

A woman wearing a protective mask aligns bottles on shelves inside a liquor store in Bangkok, after the capital announced a 10-day ban on alcohol sales from Friday. (Reuters photo)
A woman wearing a protective mask aligns bottles on shelves inside a liquor store in Bangkok, after the capital announced a 10-day ban on alcohol sales from Friday. (Reuters photo)

Even small groups of people drinking together during Songkran would be in breach of the ban on social gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronvirus, and they would face legal action, a senior government official warned on Friday.

The warning follows reports that people rushed to stock up on alcoholic beverages ahead of the ban on sales in effect in Bangkok and many other provinces. 

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said police would not be reluctant to use their power under the Emergency Decree to crack down on social gatherings, regardless of the number of people present.

Violators of the prohibition on social gatherings are liable to a fine of up to 100,000 baht and/or a one-year jail term.

Dr Taweesilp said the covid response centre was worried about celebrations during Songkran, which falls on Monday this year.

Bangkok on Friday joined many provinces that have banned sales of alcoholic drinks around the clock to deter people from socialising, which could spread the coronavirus. The ban period varies, depending on the judgement of the provincial communicable disease committee.

Bangkok enforces the ban until April 20.

Provinces that have banned sales of alcoholic beverages include Buri Ram, Chai Nat, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Mukdahan, Nakhon Pathom, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Prachin Buri, Rayong, Sakon Nakhon, Samut Songkram, Suphan Buri and Surin.

The prohibition is aimed at reducing the options for people to gather in groups and risk spreading the virus,  the centre said.

The Thai Lunar New Year is on April 13, and holidays were designated from April 13-15. The government has postponed the festival holiday to prevent the virus from spreading to more people. The new holiday dates have not been decided.


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