Bangkok Post: Bangkok bans alcohol for 10 days to curb Covid-19

Authorities in Bangkok have banned alcohol sales for 10 days to help prevent social gatherings that could spread the virus that causes Covid-19.

The ban wiill be in effect from April 10 to April 20 and is the metropolitan region’s latest effort to contain a surge in infections since early March. 

Alcohol is now proscribed for about 16 million people, as several others among the nation’s 77 provinces have already imposed curbs. Thailand as a whole is under a state of emergency and partial lockdown through April.

“We ask that all of you cooperate,” Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, a spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said in a briefing Thursday. “We’re about to gain control over the spread of the virus.”

Officials are trying to entrench social distancing to beat the pathogen that causes Covid-19, with roughly a quarter of Thailand’s 69 million people under alcohol prohibitions. Even before the outbreak, majority-Buddhist Thailand imposed relatively strict rules that block sales of beer, wine and spirits during specific hours.

Following the announcement, people queued to buy wine, beer and spirits in the capital.

At supermarkets, shoppers wearing facial masks crowded in to the alcohol section.

“I don’t know how long the ban will take, so I bought a lot just in case it extended,” said 39-year-old Tanawat Ruenbanterng, who bought 30 bottles of beer.

The government reported 54 additional novel coronavirus infections Thursday, among the smallest daily increases in recent weeks, taking the total to 2,423. Just over half the cases are in the capital.

The administration postponed Songkran, the traditional New Year holiday due April 13 to April 15, until later in the year, but some people may still seek to celebrate.

Thai Beverage Plc 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.

The company’s share of the smaller beer market was 42% in 2018, while closely held Boon Rawd Brewery Co, best known for its Singha and Leo brands, had a 51% share.

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