Thailand: Big Alcohol Pushes For Alcohol Home Delivery
In Thailand, as the government starts to relax the lockdown measures implemented to reduce COVID-19 spread, Big Alcohol is pushing for home delivery options among other special requests.
Initially, Thailand imposed an alcohol sales ban till April 17, then extended it until April 30. The government stated the ban would be extended until May 31, but has gone back on this decision and lifted the ban in parallel to the lockdown relaxation. It seems Big Alcohol lobbying played a part in the changing of this decision.
The emergency decree has been continued till May 31, but many businesses were allowed to re-open since the May 3. For example, restaurants, salons, markets, street vendors, food shops outside shopping malls, telecommunication service shops and non-team sports facilities have opened since the May 3.
Ahead of this lockdown relaxation the Big Alcohol lobby in Thailand led by the Thai Fruit Wine and Local Spirit Producer Association, Thailand Bartender Association, and Thai Wine Association pushed for the government to relax restrictions on alcohol. Their requests included:
- Lift the ban on alcohol sale,
- Allow beer and liquor to be sold via take-away and delivery services,
- Ease the tax burden to “help manage the destruction of spoiled liquor amid the Covid-19 crisis”,
- Lift the ban on the wholesale trade of alcohol, and
- Inform the alcohol industry in advance before announcing future alcohol-related orders.
The push has led to the government to relaxing the alcohol sales ban and to allowing retail of alcohol. However, restaurants are still barred from serving alcohol and other places which sell alcohol such as pubs and clubs remain closed.
All industries have suffered from the COVID-19 crisis, and yet, Big Alcohol is requesting special treatment with tax cuts and delivery services for products which are not essential.
The alcohol industry requesting preferential treatment during the COVID-19 crisis is deeply problematic considering that alcohol is not an essential item and alcohol harms are pervasive and aggravating the consequences of the pandemic.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised governments to restrict access to alcohol to avoid the predictable burden such as hospitalizations due to diseases and injury resulting from alcohol, alcohol-related violence, alcohol’s effects on people’s mental health.
It is important to reduce the burden on healthcare and emergency services and the resource drain caused by alcohol during this time where COVID-19 is over-burdening systems in order to safeguard public health and save more lives.
For further reading:
STATEMENT OF CONCERN REGARDING THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19 CRISIS
Blitz: “Thai alcohol industry urges lift prohibition“
Bangkok Post: “Alcohol ban to be lifted Sunday — with limits“