Sales of alcoholic beverages will be allowed again from Sunday but people will only be able to drink at home and not in restaurants when they reopen, the government said on Friday.
The announcement was published in the Royal Gazette as part of the easing of some of the stringent measures imposed in the battle against the coronavirus.
The decision represents an about-face by the government, which said earlier this week that the alcohol ban would remain in effect until May 31 after it renewed the emergency decree for another month. Restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol as part of the condition for their reopening from tomorrow. Pubs and other entertainment venues where alcohol is served will stay closed.
"The government does not want people to group together as it risks the spread of Covid-19," Somsak Rungsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council, told the media.
The lifting of the alcohol sales ban follows the easing of other lockdown measures. The government had initially banned the sale of liquor from April 10-20, only to extend it further.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said allowing the sale of alcohol reflected a "general relaxation" for the whole country.
"But Bangkok and some provinces can extend the ban if they think [lifting it] will do more harm than good," he said.
Snips and tips: Health officials give hairdressers instructions on how to prevent Covid-19 transmission as their salons prepare to reopen tomorrow. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Meanwhile, authorities are drafting guidelines for six businesses and activities allowed to resume from tomorrow as the lockdown measures ease, said Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman.
A "collective standard" is needed to guide business operators, he said.
The new guidelines will be ready by tomorrow.
The collective standards will centre on three practices: businesses and activities must be done in areas with good air circulation; social distancing must be in place; and minimum contact between people is required.
For businesses involving close interactions like hair salons, Dr Taweesilp said the guidelines will help limit contact.
Apart from salons, markets and street vendors, food shops outside shopping malls, telecommunication service shops and non-team sports facilities will also be allowed to reopen.
The Health Department has already given salons and barbers a set of guidelines, including temperature checks, proper equipment sanitisation methods and distance maintenance of 1.5-2 metres between clients.
But Somsak Chalachol, chairman of the Professional Thai Hairdresser Association, asked for some flexibility.
"Some salons in the lowest D-grade category may not follow all the instructions because they are too small to adopt social distancing. This will hurt many operators as most are classified in this group," he said.