Shoppers rush out to buy booze amid fears of further bans in Thailand

People wearing protective face masks queue to buy street food in Chinatown, in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 3, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, May 4, 2020, Bangkok Post. Liquor sections at supermarkets and convenience stores yesterday were thronging with customers eager to buy alcoholic beverages after sales resumed for the first time in almost a month, Bangkok Post reported.

Shops across the country saw people buying beer, wine and whiskey in bulk, as a precaution against further prohibition, as the clock struck 11am, the earliest time alcohol can legally be sold.

However, alcohol sales in many provinces are still prohibited.

Alcohol sales in Nakhon Phanom and Rayong are still banned until May 15. In Chanthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phetchaburi, Phitsanulok, Sa Kaeo and Songkhla, sales will only be allowed at the end of the month.

In Buri Ram and Lampang, the ban will remain in place indefinitely, until the governor deems it safe to allow sales to resume.

Yesterday, boxes of beer at the Makro cash-and-carry store in the Srinakarin area of Samut Prakan were rushed to checkout counters within the first five minutes of sales resuming.

Liquor sections in other stores saw customers forming long queues to quench their thirst for booze.

“We have had to get more beer and whiskey as we are running out of stock,” said Pratheep Wicchaphin, the owner of Hok Kee, a wholesale shop in Phimai district of Nakhon Ratchasima.

While sales of alcoholic beverages are now permitted, buyers are only allowed to drink at home.

Although patrons cannot drink in restaurants and shops, some places yesterday defied the order issued by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

In Kalasin, Sahatsakhan district chief Trakul Nunil yesterday ordered four floating restaurants on Lampao dam to close after they were found to have sold alcoholic beverages to customers.

Meanwhile, a video clip of a large crowd of people scrambling to grab boxes of beer at a supermarket on Srinakarin Road went viral yesterday, sparking widespread criticism on social media.

Netizens lambasted those in the clip for failing to observe social distancing guidelines out of desperation for alcohol.

Defence Forces chief Pornpipat Benyasri, who heads the Royal Thai Armed Forces’ security emergency operations centre, said now that alcohol sales have been temporarily allowed to resume, provinces have to maintain even stricter patrols to ensure public compliance.

“Inspections will be carried out in 28 days from now,” he said.

He warned that those found guilty of violating the ban on drinking in public places face up to two years in jail and fines of up to 40,000 baht.

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