Thailand is trying a new tactic in its battle against the new coronavirus: banning the sale of alcoholic beverages to try to curb irresponsible socializing. With bars already ordered closed, a number of provinces, as well as the capital of Bangkok, have temporarily outlawed the sale of beer, wine, and spirits. Bangkok's ban, which started Friday and runs until April 20, had the unintended effect of creating long lines at stores as people stocked up in the few hours between the ban's announcement and its going into effect. Authorities have been concerned about partying during the Thai new year festival known as Songkran, the AP reports. It is Thailand’s biggest holiday and is notorious for merrymaking and drinking, which typically contributes to a spike in traffic deaths. The official April 13-15 holiday has already been postponed.
Thailand has confirmed 2,473 coronavirus cases and 33 deaths. At least initially, a number of the cases were linked to parties at Bangkok nightspots. Most surveys put Thai alcohol consumption a bit above the global average and far below the volumes of Eastern Europe. The president of Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association said drinkers will find what they need in a less managed way, such as driving to areas where there are no bans or buying from smugglers, hoarders and underground producers. Other countries have instituted at least limited bans on alcohol sales during the pandemic, including Barbados, Grenada, Colombia, Mexico, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Greenland. In South Africa and Greenland, officials said the ban was imposed partly to try to curb domestic violence that might rise while people are cooped up in close quarters.
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