As #Thailand seeks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, a crackdown on the sale of alcoholic beverages has become one option, after a province of more than 1 million people in the northeast part of the country imposed the prohibition.
Sakon Nakhon banned the sale of alcohol starting Tuesday at least until April 16. The move is designed to curb group drinking at home, a popular tradition among rural Thais, which could lead to the spread of the pathogen.
Thailand has the highest per-capita alcohol consumption in Southeast Asia, according to a World Health Organization report.
Majority-Buddhist Thailand already has relatively strict rules that block sales of beer, wine and spirits during specific hours, and others among its 77 provinces could follow Sakon Nakhon’s lead if infections keep surging, according to health officials.
The country has more than 1,600 confirmed cases and 10 fatalities.
“The government is pleading with citizens to avoid all social gatherings during this time,” Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the Covid-19 center, said in a briefing Tuesday in Bangkok. Each provincial governor now has the authority to issue stricter measures, he added.
Banning alcohol would add a tier to state-of-emergency rules imposed by the government last week, under which non-essential businesses are shut and inter-provincial travel is discouraged. Gatherings are also banned.
Violation of the rule in Sakon Nakhon is punishable by one year in prison or a fine of 100,000 baht ($3,066).
Thai Beverage Pcl is the largest seller of alcoholic beverages in Thailand, with its array of spirit brands holding almost 80% of the domestic market, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence.
ThaiBev share of the smaller beer market was 42% in 2018, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, while closely held Boon Rawd Brewery Co., best known for its Singha and Leo brands, had a 51% share. – Bloomberg.
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