Earlier in April, a COVID-19 outbreak was traced to a nightlife district in capital city Bangkok. Now, the city has become the epicenter of the third wave of COVID-19 in Thailand. The national infection rate jumped from 29,900 to more than 40,500 in the past 10 days.
With the Songkran festival coming up, authorities have implemented travel restrictions. The festival time usually sees heavy movement of Thais to their hometowns and back.
To curb the spread of the virus Thai authorities implemented an alcohol ban in restaurants and bars. All entertainment venues will also be closed. The measures which came into effect yesterday, April 18, 2021 is set to be in place for two weeks and reviewed.
The measure by the Thai government to control alcohol availability during COVID-19 aligns with World Health Organization advice and the latest evidence on alcohol and COVID-19.
A groundbreaking report revealed the lethal interaction alcohol has with the ongoing pandemic.
- Alcohol increases the health and societal problems arising from the pandemic. For example, alcohol weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infections. And alcohol-centric social contexts have been COVID-19 super spreader events.
- Alcohol increases the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already stretched due to the COVID-19.
- The alcohol industry exploits the pandemic to change alcohol laws to their private benefit.
Early on in the pandemic the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended reducing alcohol availability to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce potentially severe complications of the virus.
Many countries around the world have used alcohol availability measures to curb the virus spread and reduce burdens on the healthcare system. South Africa is one country which effectively used temporary alcohol sales bans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many European countries have also followed various alcohol availability measures for pandemic control.
These alcohol policy solutions help to reduce virus spread, relieve the alcohol burden on the healthcare system which is strained under the pandemic and protects people’s immunity.