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Government orders bars to have “sobering up” areas and alcohol testing

PHOTO: Flickr/Eustaquio Santimano

From December 15, nightlife venues in parts of Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chon Buri and Koh Samui can remain open until 4am. Officially. The extended hours are being introduced in a bid to boost tourism and local venue economies.

But the new operating hours come with strings attached. One of those, according to deputy PM, Phumtham Wechayachai, is that venues staying open until 4am must provide “sobering up” areas, with alcohol breathalysers, to mitigate the chances of customers drink-driving.

But who pays for the alcohol testing kits? And how many venues have space for a ‘sobering up’ area?

Thailand’s National Alcohol Beverage Policy Committee is insisting on the measures, which were announced at a meeting chaired by Phumtham on Saturday, December 9. The new ‘official’ 4am closing times would replace the previous ‘official’ 2am closing times which were often ignored anyway by venues who would negotiate with local officials to remain open longer – that negotiation may, or may not, involve the contents of a brown paper bag.

The Phuket Express reports that deputy PM for public health, Santi Promphat, says nightlife venues that decide to remain open until 4am must strictly follow the rules to keep customers safe and minimise alcohol-related incidents. In particular, he stressed the law prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under 20 years of age.

According to Santi, nightlife operators will be required to carry out breathalyser tests on customers and order them to rest in “sobering up” areas if they are over the legal limit of 50 milligrams per deciliter and plan on driving.

If a customer refuses to chill out in the designated area, the business is then required to contact his or her friends or family members or organise public transport at the patron’s expense.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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