The Kohn Kaen governor, on behalf of the provincial disease control committee, announced this evening, March 9th, 2022, that an unpopular and controversial alcohol sales ban at all restaurants will continue due to high Covid-19 cases.
The ban, which doesn’t include grocery stores but does essentially ban all “restaurants” (converted bars) from doing business, was originally enacted on February 23rd by Provincial Governor Somsak Changtrakul. The ban was in 26 major districts, including three “blue” tourism zones, and followed Buriram doing the same thing, citing high Covid-19 cases.
Several weeks later, cases remain high with hundreds a day and despite being under fire from business owners claiming the ban was not stopping the spread of Covid-19 and seemed to have little to no effect, the governor stated today the ban will continue for at least another fourteen days and will then be evaluated once again. It was not clear if financial support would be given to venues that are affected by the ban.
The ban, TPN notes, shows how individual governors of provinces have a lot of leeway in terms of enacting stronger rules than set at a national level and how policies can dramatically differ from one province to another. Bars and nightlife have been legally closed in Thailand since April of 2021, although the Thai Government has since allowed them to convert to temporary restaurants to open. This ban shuts that loophole entirely for Khon Kaen.
The Governor also said that gathering limits would remain at 50 or less and any entertainment-style events remained banned. He declined to comment on Songkran, the Thai New Year and largest holiday in April, saying the situation will be reviewed well before then.