Thai Brewers Association urges government to revoke ban of alcohol sales in restaurants

PHOTO: Prachatai

Bangkok –

The Thai Brewers Association yesterday, May 31st, has submitted a petition letter to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to request to revoke the ban of alcohol sales in restaurants and bars as the relevant businesses have been severely affected by the regulation and have not received any remedies.

“The Thai Brewers Association truly understands the goodwill and purpose of Public Health agencies that the alcohol sales ban is implemented to control the spread of the Covid-19,” the statement read. “However, the Association is deeply concerned about the survival of entrepreneurs and employees involved in the severely affected alcohol business, directly and indirectly as Bangkok has put the measure into effect for more than 45 days.”

“But it appears that the number of Covid-19 infections has not decreased. New clusters have been found from markets, construction camps, factories, and other sites unrelated to the sales of alcoholic beverages. It is reported that the main clusters at the beginning of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 were not caused by alcohol, even the Thonglor cluster. The final investigations have already proved that the origins of the cluster are due to the illegal operation of the night business,” the statement added.

Currently, there are at least 300 small entrepreneurs who are operating craft beer-related businesses in Bangkok and its vicinity. Since the Covid-19 outbreaks were reported, many establishments are not allowed to have their alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants and bars, resulting in at least 5,000 affected people and a loss in value of at least 150 million baht per month. This doesn’t count tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, and other venues who are either force closed or cannot sell alcohol and, according to the brewers association, have received little to no financial assistance or aid from the government.

In this regard, the Thai Brewers Association has proposed to the relevant authorities four policies to extend the alcohol business in Bangkok.

  1. Ease the measure to legally sell alcohol for consumption at stores like restaurants and small bars, especially open-air, with intensive screening and social distancing measures conducted by the Ministry of Public Health.
  2. Delay the enforcement of the prohibition of alcohol sales via electronic channels as well as ease the enforcement of buying alcohol for takeaway under Section 32 of the Alcohol Control Act to allow the entrepreneurs to recommend and sell their products through online channels. The age restriction and customer screenings must still be implemented in accordance with the law.
  3. Allow small entrepreneurs to delay the VAT and social security payments as well as allow importers of alcoholic beverages to pay excise and import taxes in installments in order to alleviate the financial liquidity crisis.
  4. Consider the Covid-19 proactive screening and vaccine allocation among the groups of restaurants, pubs, and bar operators. Due to the current implementation of the alcohol sale ban and the closure of entertainment venues, the concerned professionals are, therefore, considered a high-risk group that the government has to urgently take action against in order for the economy to operate properly.

“The Thai Brewers Association, including all people who work honestly in the business of selling alcohol, also urged the CCSA and the BMA to sincerely understand our problem in the current situation and kindly ask for considering any remedies that have been proposed above,” the Association concluded.

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