The Thai Alcohol Control Board, in combination with the Ministry of Public Health and the Thai Department of Disease control, approved in principle a draft regulation to ban online alcohol sales yesterday, July 2nd, 2020.
Deputy health minister Satit Pituthecha said the new rule, whose exact date of enforcement and roll-out has not been decided, will help stop easy access of alcohol, especially to minors.
Critics, however, including representatives of the alcohol beverage industry, have submitted a petition to the Alcohol Control Board asking the Thai government to delay or postpone the decision and roll-out of the law as the industry is still dealing with significant financial fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Thailand, alcohol sales were banned entirely for most of April due to Covid-19 prevention measures, and entertainment venues, who rely on alcohol sales for profit, were just re-opened this week after a three and a half month closure. Restaurants also were forbidden from selling alcohol until mid last month. This came on top of authorities cracking down on house parties and other similar gatherings as well as public alcohol drinking in places like beaches and parks, which is a common pastime for many Thai people. Thailand used harsh penalties that fall under an Emergency Decree law to enforce a ban on gatherings and parties.
This also follows reports of the Alcohol Control Board cracking down on advertising alcohol online and unconfirmed reports of people fined up to 50,000 baht merely for taking photos of having a drink. The Department of Disease Control largely refuted these claims, saying that only celebrities and social media influencers who reached a widespread audience and were possibly being paid to promote sales of alcohol were fined.
Satit stated that the new rules will take effect in the near future and the Department of Disease Control were determining the exact date.