Ahead of the Thai New Year (April 13-15), the government of Thailand has banned sales of alcoholic beverages in the attempt to curb irresponsible socializing that could lead to the further spread of COVID-19, reported Reuters.
Bars, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses have been closed in many provinces, as well as the capital of Bangkok. Still, until Thursday (April 9), the sale of beer, wine, and spirits was permitted.
A 10-day ban on the sale of wine, beer and spirits began Friday and will last through April 20. About 61% of the country's provinces, or about 47 out of 77, have implemented alcohol bans, the interior ministry said in a statement.
According to the Ministry of Interior, at least 47 provinces now have a ban on the sale of alcohol:— Richard Barrow in Thailand 🇹🇭🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) April 11, 2020
1) Until further notice: Chon Buri, Phitsanulok & Phuket
2) Until April 15: Rayong & Ranong
3) Until April 16: Sakon Nakhon, Yala, Phichit, Lop Buri & Chiang Rai #Thailand pic.twitter.com/vrOtHpOWLo
The abrupt decision to halt alcohol sales in many provinces, including Bangkok, is ahead of the Thai new year festival known as Songkran. This is the country's biggest holiday, usually involves street parties and absolutely no social distancing.
Organizers of Songkran have already canceled the events as the country has confirmed 2,551 virus cases and 38 deaths. Many of the country's early cases were linked to parties in Bangkok.
Officials believe many people are still going to host Songkran parties of their own, despite lockdown orders. Anyone who violates the public health order will be subjected to a fine, imprisoned, or both.
Ahead of the alcohol ban, people disregarded government-enforced social distancing rules and panic hoarded boozes on Thursday.
นี่แหละครับ อยากให้ประชาชนเว้นระยะห่างทางสังคม แต่ดันประกาศห้ามขายแอลกอฮอล์ ตอนนี้ที่ร้านเหล้าสยามพารากอนจึงมีคนออกัน คิวยาว 20 คนเสี่ยงติดเป็นคลัสเตอร์ใหม่ เพิ่งถ่ายกับมือ #ป #โควิด19 คิดสิคิด #แอลกอฮอล์ #โควิด19เราต้องรอด pic.twitter.com/vv0EV9sI46— Pravit Rojanaphruk (@PravitR) April 9, 2020
Booze mayhem here in Villa Market, i see people with carts full of wines, beer, booze, 10.000-20.000 thb and up... insane!— Rob van Gelder (@steadirob) April 9, 2020
This was predictable. The local government in #Bangkok announced a ban on the sale of alcohol starting tomorrow and so everyone rushed out to stock up on booze. Judging by these pictures by @ken1978uk and others, there was no chance to do any #SocialDistancing #Thailand pic.twitter.com/tSbGngkpoh— Richard Barrow in Thailand 🇹🇭🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) April 9, 2020
Several other countries have forbidden or limited alcohol sales during the pandemic. The list includes France, South Africa, Grenada, Colombia, Mexico, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Greenland.
We noted specifically in Greenland and France, alcohol restrictions were to prevent domestic violence cases from surging during lockdowns. In South Africa, sales of alcohol and cigarettes were halted last month as Martial law style lockdown unfolded across the country.