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As part of preparations for the upcoming holiday season, Thailand is considering extending sales hours for alcoholic beverages from 9 pm to 11 pm or midnight.
The Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Rachakitprakarn, said a meeting between government agencies and the hospitality and tourism sectors will take place on Monday to discuss the proposal.
In addition, he said additional measures to prevent another spike in Covid-19 cases will also be discussed at the meeting. Adding that the outcome of the meeting would be forwarded to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for further analysis.
Businesses in Bangkok, Krabi, Phangnga, and Phuket are calling for further relaxation of alcohol sales rules. Since Nov 1, restaurants have been able to serve alcoholic beverages until 9 pm.
Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association (TABBA) executive secretary Thanakorn Kuptajit said on Sunday the government should consider allowing restaurants in other provinces to serve alcohol.
The director suggested running a 2-week trial across 27 provinces in the “surveillance zone” and “blue zone” under the Covid-free setting measures, starting Dec 1.
The trial will allow the government to determine whether easing curbs further is feasible, given the current situation.
In the past week, the CCSA revised its zoning criteria, designating 23 provinces as maximum controlled zones (red), 23 as controlled zones (orange), 24 as high surveillance zones (yellow), and seven as tourism zones (blue).
Bangkok, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phangnga, and Phuket are within the blue zone.
Businesses can take advantage of the holidays. We’re not dying from Covid-19, but from a stagnant economy, he said.
As a New Year’s gift for business and workers, he said, the CCSA should relax the rules further.
The prospect of getting back to work will be more important for workers in the sector than financial compensation for the loss of income.
Since restaurants were allowed to open again and serve drinks, no large clusters have emerged, according to Mr. Thanakorn. The state of emergency has been extended until Jan 31 to ensure the government has all the tools it may need to contain a possible Covid-19 outbreak.
Separately, the Labor Ministry said it will meet with musicians and performers on Dec 15 to discuss their demand for open-air performances to resume on that date instead of Jan 15.
Suwit Kittithananon, a representative of the artists, said they are hoping the government will allow them to perform outdoors as these performances pose fewer risks than concerts in enclosed spaces.
“We don’t play in bars or pubs, but at open-air events. If the government agrees to ease the ban, we’ll be back on our feet soon,” he said.