Thailand: Thousands storm liquor stores after alcohol ban is lifted

Thousands of people in Thailand stormed liquor stores today after a three-week ban on alcohol was lifted. Liquor sections at supermarkets and convenience stores on Sunday were thronged with customers eager to buy alcoholic beverages for the first time since the government imposed a total ban on alcohol on April 10. The government hoped to curb irresponsible socializing and the spread of the coronavirus with this measure shortly before Thailand’s new year’s festival also known as Songkra. (, 10.4.2020).

One month ago Thailand reported more than 100 daily cases of COVID-19 infections and government took harsh measures to reduce the infection rate. On Friday, the Asian nation reported only six more infections, the fifth straight day of single-digit increases and the third day without additional fatalities.

The decision represents an about-face by the government that announced earlier last week to extend the ban until further notice. In view of the lower infection rates, however, government decided to ease some of the stringent measures imposed in the battle against the coronavirus. The final decision in each province rests with the local governor. "Bangkok and some provinces can extend the ban if they think [lifting it] will do more harm than good," said Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

According to the new rules, restaurants and other establishments selling alcoholic beverages are now allowed to open again and sell alcohol but the drinks can’t be consumed on the premises. "The government does not want people to group together as it risks the spread of Covid-19," explained Somsak Rungsita, Secretary-General of the National Security Council.

Several other countries have instituted bans on alcohol sales, either in selected areas or nationwide, to curb gatherings. They include Barbados, Grenada, Colombia, Mexico, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Greenland.

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