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Thailand’s alcohol sales hours to remain unchanged, for now

PHOTO: Pickpik

Thailand’s health minister Cholnan Srikaew has confirmed the current legal hours for alcohol sales will remain unchanged, despite a push to change the long-running afternoon bans. The law currently dictates that alcohol can be sold between the hours of 11am to 2pm and again from 5pm to midnight each day (although presumably the after-midnight sales are legal as well).

Officially, there is a ban on alcohol sales between the hours of 2pm and 5pm, although many smaller “Mom and Pop” stores ignore this, or don’t have watches.

The health minister has also confirmed that the National Alcohol Beverage Policy Committee is setting up a panel to examine the potential impact of longer drinking hours. He adds that any change to sales hours would require a review of all laws and regulations governing alcoholic beverages in the kingdom.

The panel will study the impact of longer drinking hours on public health and the economy, with Cholnan saying the current data is insufficient to make a decision. He adds, however, that there is currently no deadline for the study to be concluded.

Tourism operators have long campaigned for the 2pm – 5pm ban to be revoked, saying doing so could see overall tourism revenue increase to 1.2 trillion baht. Thailand’s tourism ministry says revenues from food and beverage sales would account for about 200 billion baht.

However, Cholnan points out that the 5 provinces where nightlife operating hours have been extended have also seen an increase in accidents.

“We need to assess if the increase in accidents is directly related to the longer operating hours.”

Various groups opposing any extension to alcohol sales hours have cited public health and welfare as a reason to maintain the status quo. According to a Bangkok Post report, around 800 people gathered outside the health ministry yesterday, February 19, to protest against any easing of the rules.

They were assured by Deputy PM Somsak Thepsutin, who chairs a committee on alcoholic beverage controls, that the law will remain as is.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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