Booze Ban Lifted in Bangkok and Other “Blue Provinces”

Restaurants in the capital and three other provinces have been authorized to sell alcohol from Monday, November 1.

In line with the country’s reopening to fully vaccinated tourists from 46 countries, the Covid-19 task force designated Bangkok, Phangnga, Krabi and Phuket as “blue” tourist zones, lifting the booze ban after months-long strict restrictions.

On Friday, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration CCSA’s spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said authorities had approved key changes to Thailand’s coronavirus control zoning in order to ease some controls. The move also cut dark red provinces from 23 to only seven, he said.

Moreover, the government introduced the color blue in the zoning system to classify the pandemic situation in the pilot tourist areas (Bangkok, Krabi, Phang-nga, and Phuket), which are expected to follow friendlier restrictions to attract international travelers.

“We are already familiar with Krabi, Phangnga and Phuket which have been the sandbox provinces for the country reopening. Bangkok is included here,” Dr. Taweesilp said.

However, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and other provincial authorities should impose some restrictive measures under their jurisdiction, if applicable, to ensure safety.

While the alcohol ban had been lifted in tourist areas, it has not been confirmed if it applies to bars, pubs and nighttime venues, which have been closed for months.

Also, an announcement published in the Royal Gazette Friday reaffirmed the ban on public gatherings “in a manner that could spread the virus.”

The announcement, signed by Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi as the Covid-19 team’s head, said that those who violate the ruling could face up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht.

The CCSA also eased restrictions on gatherings and businesses in blue zones, allowing residents to gather and some establishments to reopen without limits.

Businesses authorized to resume operations with no limits include daycare centers for children and the elderly, sports facilities, theatres, exhibition and convention venues, shopping centers, game arcades, water and amusement parks, markets, convenience stores, beauty salons, beauty clinics, and massage, spa, and tattoo parlors.

Blue zones’ restaurants can also reopen with no restrictions on seating or opening hours.

Meanwhile, Pattaya tourism operators criticized the government’s announcement on Friday, complaining that the popular tourist destination was left off the list of places where the booze ban was lifted.

Boon-anant Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, said that Pattaya deserved to be included in the list and be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, as it risks losing competitive advantage against other provinces despite being one of the country’s main tourist destinations.