Authorities are considering extending hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages from 9pm to 11pm or midnight in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.
Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Rachakitprakarn, said the proposal will be discussed on Monday at a meeting between government agencies and the hospitality and tourism sectors ahead of the New Year celebrations.
He also said added measures to prevent another spike in COVID-19 cases will also be discussed at the meeting.
The outcome of the meeting, he added, will be forwarded to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration for further consideration.
Restaurants and eateries in Bangkok, Krabi, Phangnga and Phuket have been allowed to serve alcoholic beverages until 9pm since 1st November, but businesses are calling for the further relaxation of alcohol sales rules in restaurants.
Thanakorn Kuptajit, executive secretary of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association (TABBA), said on Sunday the government should consider allowing restaurants in 27 other provinces to serve alcoholic drinks.
He suggested a two-week trial across 27 provinces in the “surveillance zone” and “blue zone” under the COVID-free setting measures, starting 1st December.
He said the trial will allow the government to determine if the further easing of COVID curbs is feasible, given the situation.
Last week, the CCSA re-adjusted its zoning criteria, designating 23 provinces as maximum controlled zones (red), 23 as controlled zones (orange), 24 as high surveillance zones (yellow) and seven as tourist-oriented zones (blue).
The blue zone covers Bangkok, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phangnga and Phuket.
“[The holidays are] an opportunity for businesses. We’re not dying from COVID-19, but from the stagnating economy.
“We want the CCSA to further ease the rules as a New Year gift for businesses and workers,” he said.
He said that for workers in the sector, no financial compensation for the loss of income will be as good as the prospect of getting back to work.
Mr Kuptajit said the reason the state of emergency has been extended to 31st January was to ensure the government has all the tools it may need to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections — though he went on to say that since restaurants were allowed to reopen and serve drinks, no major clusters have emerged.
Separately, the Labour Ministry said it will meet musicians and performing artists to discuss their demands for open-air performances to resume on 15th December, instead of 15th January.
Suwit Kittithananon, a representative of the artists, said lam tad, luk thung and likay performers, wants the government to allow outdoor live performances as they pose fewer risks than gigs in enclosed spaces.
“Our gigs aren’t in pubs or bars but open-air events. If the government agrees to relax the ban, we’ll be back on our feet soon,” he said.