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Restaurant owners push for Thailand’s afternoon booze ban to be lifted

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Thai restaurant owners are calling on the government to relax the laws governing alcohol and to lift the ban on alcohol sales between the hours of 2pm and 5pm.

Sorathep Rojpojjanaras, President of the Restaurant Operators Association of Thailand, says his association has submitted a letter to PM Srettha Thavisin calling for change.

“Entertainment venues’ legal closing hours have been extended to 4am. Restaurant operators want the government to consider legal alcohol sale hours too, especially in the afternoons.”

According to a Phuket Express report, Sorathep says the current ban on afternoon sales is creating confusion among foreign tourists.

“To relieve sales obstacles from restaurant businesses, the alcohol sale ban hours from 2pm to 5pm should be cancelled. This ban has continued for more than 50 years. The ban hours have caused problems with foreign tourists and many of them do not understand why there is a ban and then argue with business owners.”

Restaurant operators say nobody seems to be able to explain the reason for the over 50-year-old ban on alcohol sales between 2pm and 5pm. Some suggest it was introduced by the PM at the time to prevent government workers from leaving work early to start drinking.

Others say it was done to prevent drink-driving incidents at around the time school students are travelling home. However, the law’s critics point out that there’s nothing to stop someone drinking heavily between 11am and 2pm (when alcohol sales are legal) and then getting behind the wheel as schools are releasing students.

The debate on alcohol sales has been dragging on for years, through successive governments, but Sorathep says the PM and Cabinet have the authority to implement swift change and do away with old laws without the need for debate.

The report notes that restaurant owners are not currently calling for the ban on alcohol sales during Buddhist holidays to be lifted. Although it has been proposed by more liberal officials in the past, the issue is seen as highly sensitive for many religious and deeply conservative members of Thai society.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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