On Thursday, the Thai government announced that they would prohibit the online transaction of alcoholic beverages to crackdown on underage drinking amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to ban the online sales of alcohol came after several alcohol watchdog groups advocated a crackdown on alcoholic sales on the internet and social media, which escalated during the pandemic.
Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Public Health, Satit Pitutacha, said:
“Since the outbreak of covid-19, the sale of beverages online has increased, and there were promotions that did not regulate age and location, making it difficult to enforce existing laws.”
Representatives of various alcohol sellers and brewers expressed discontent over the legislature by the government.
Alcohol companies and seller representatives submitted to the Alcohol Control Board a petition seeking to postpone the decision to tighten online alcohol sales.
The group cited that alcohol businesses are still reeling from the economic damages created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The president of the Craft Beer Import and Distribution Association, Chiravas Vanasrisawasd, said:
“Although alcohol can be sold now, businesses have to communicate with their customers.”
“This will make things more difficult for the industry.”
Thailand previously initiated a three-week sale ban on alcoholic drinks, which was eventually lifted in May, along with other restrictions.
Under existing Thai law, sales of alcohol online are allowed if the vendor has a valid license to supply alcoholic drinks.
However, it is against the law to post photos of alcohol online to a broad audience and encourage alcoholic consumption in public, including on social media.
Three weeks ago, a Thai Facebook user ran into trouble with this law and was fined 50,000 baht.
The user, ผู้บริโภค, was fined for his posting of an alcoholic drink on the social media website.
Authorities summoned the social media user for his violation regarding the alcoholic laws, and he was told to pay the penalty on the spot or risk going to court.
Aside from the Thai Facebook user, 400 restaurant owners have also been called-out by officials for advertising their menus online, which features alcoholic drinks.
A representative of business owners, Supapong Pruenglampu, said:
“Officials say the word is an exaggeration, and the law gives them too much leeway in exercising their discretion. This, as well as a large fine, prevents small operators from competing with large ones.”
Thailand will initiate a nationwide alcohol ban from Saturday to Tuesday due to two Buddhist holidays.