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Wednesday 13 December 2023

Thai bars ordered to enforce the unenforceable

Thai officials are twisting themselves in knots over how to allow tourists to spend more time and money drinking alcohol but avoid problems with drunkenness.

Regular readers will remember the recent edict that bars and entertainment venues are to be allowed to stay open until 4am.

But our Thailand correspondent notes that those venues have now been ordered to set up sobering-up areas to prevent patrons from driving home drunk.

That announcement was made by the National Alcohol Beverage Policy Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, over the weekend, the Pattaya News reported.

Santi Promphat, deputy minister of public health, announced after the committee’s meeting that bars and nightclubs must strictly obey the rules and regulations when they are allowed to operate until 4am, starting from this Friday.

This is "to ensure patrons' safety and minimize alcohol-related incidents".

Entertainment venues in permitted zones in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Bangkok and Surat Thani will be given the right to open later, along with hotels nationwide.

Santi said that operators must follow the Entertainment Place Act and Section 29 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which prevent night-time venues from selling alcoholic beverages to people under 20 years old.

He went on to say that venue operators will also be required to conduct breathalyser tests on patrons. If customers’ alcohol level is above the legal limit of 50 milligrams per decilitre, they will need to rest in areas provided by the venues until they are sober enough to drive home.

How appealing. A zone where drunk people are sobering up. Sounds like so much fun.

In the event that a customer refuses to rest and has a breath alcohol level exceeding the legal limit, the bar operators must then contact the customer’s friends or relatives or hail public transport to arrange for their transportation at the customer’s expense.

It is unclear how this plan is expected to be enforced and many entertainment venue business owners have already brought up many issues, including logistical, with breathalysing every customer leaving a venue as well as to who would be responsible for paying for the equipment and what to do if a customer refuses to take the test.

What if a customer steps outside for a cigarette and then decides to leave? 

Apart from the logistics and doubtful law about forcing everyone to be breathalysed, how are venues meant to prevent customers from leaving? our correspondent asks.

Image: Roberto Moreno, 

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