Thailand bans alcohol over New Year’s festival

Thailand has imposed today a total ban on alcohol until April 20 as a new tactic in its battle against the spread of the coronavirus. The government hopes with this measure to curb irresponsible socializing.

Authorities expressed their concern about uncontrolled parties during the upcoming Thai new year’s festival which is known as Songkran and which is Thailand’s biggest holiday. Songkran is a national holiday on the 13 April every year, but the holiday period extends from 14 to 15 April to enable citizens to travel home for the holiday.

The holiday is known for its water festival. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues "Miss Songkran" is crowned where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress. The party usually runs day and night.

Brewers and Distillers are opposing the sales ban. Thanakorn Kuptajit, the president of Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association told business newspaper Thansettakij that drinkers will find their way in circumventing the ban, such as driving to no-ban areas or buying from smugglers, hoarders and underground producers. This behavior will most likely be in a much lesser organized way than when buying from official retailers or producers which will increase the risk for consumers instead of reducing it.

Thailand is not the only country to totally ban alcohol in the course of the COVID-19 crisis, either regionally or temporarily. Other countries include Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Grenada, Barbados and Greenland according to a list gathered by The New York Times.

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