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Phuket health officials, police unite to enforce Makha Bucha alcohol ban

PHUKET: The Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) has warned that health officials working together with police will enforce the nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol for the Makha Bucha religious holiday tomorrow (Feb 19).

By Waranya Prompinpiras

Monday 18 February 2019, 07:48PM

The 24-hour alcohol ban for Makha Bucha (Feb 19) will be in effect from midnight tonight through to midnight tomorrow night. Image: The Phuket News / file

The 24-hour alcohol ban for Makha Bucha (Feb 19) will be in effect from midnight tonight through to midnight tomorrow night. Image: The Phuket News / file

The 24-hour ban comes into force at midnight tonight.

Any persons and businesses found selling alcohol during the 24-hour period face up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to B10,000, or both, the office said in its official warning today.

“We have already coordinated with the Phuket Provincial Police on the matter,” PPHO Chief Dr Thanit Sermkaew said.

“If there is a violation of the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, the offenders are to be arrested immediately,” he added.

“Most pubs and bars will be closed, and main convenience stores know the law and will not sell alcohol during the period,” Mr Thanit noted.

“However, we are concerned about small shops. In the past, we have found shops along the Patong beachfront that have violated the law, secretly selling alcoholic beverages because there are a lot of tourists,” he said.

Mr Thanit also noted that ample warning of the alcohol ban had been given to vendors. (see story by The Phuket News last week, click here.)

“From Feb 13-18, PPHO officers have been visiting areas to make sure small shop owners know that they are not permitted to sell alcohol during the 24 hours,” he said.

“Also, health officers will be working with local authorities, such as municipalities and tambon administration organisations (OrBorTor) to check that no shops sell alcohol during the holiday. If any are found doing so, it will lead to their prompt arrest by police,” Dr Thanit warned.

Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Col Sermpan Sirikong also called on people to report any vendors selling alcohol during he period by calling the national police hotline 191.

The alcohol ban for tomorrow was instituted by law under an announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office on January 22, 2015.

Under the order, the sale of alcohol is prohibited on five specific Buddhist religious days: Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, Asarnha Bucha Day, Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa.

Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha and Asarnha Bucha Day are all public holidays in the Kingdom. Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa, however, are not.

Duty-free shops in international airports are exempt from the ban.



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DeKaaskopp | 23 February 2019 - 10:13:20

Timi,i'm not for a ban and i'm not against a ban.I simply don;t care. I accept that law,whereas you or others obviously have a problem with not getting served alcohol 365 days a year.And as it is not forbidden to drink alcohol on those days,i wouldn't call it nannyism too.So stop whinging for once and relax. More days with alcohol sale bans are coming soon.

Timothy | 22 February 2019 - 10:00:11

Dek, you are always talking about how you don't want Thailand to be a Nanny state. Now you are preaching to us how these alcohol rules are ok? So only the rules you like are ok? If we don't like crazy driving, motorbike rentals to unlicensed riders, we are whingers or rascist or some other BS. Now you are all for an alcohol ban. Stop trying to be a Nanny. 

DeKaaskopp | 21 February 2019 - 16:33:42

A 5 day ban? Oh,really.OMG ! That would be catastrophic. Freedom to drink.24/7 Whenever/wherever.And no more bar closing times too. Stop the paternalism for the sake of everyone who can't live without alcohol.

Kurt | 21 February 2019 - 12:53:37

Dek, not only tourists and expats. Thai families too. Don't you notice these days many thai  people in restaurants during holidays? Now they 'study' a complete alcohol ban for 5 days Songkran time. ( Bangkokpost) How about screening/clean-up in RTP, and order to enforce the thai laws of the road. Where are the RTP road patrol cars and big bikes on the road, like in SG and Malaysia?

DeKaaskopp | 20 February 2019 - 21:32:34

... How can they enact a law like this ? Don't they care about the needs of some tourists or expats?

Kurt | 20 February 2019 - 12:03:45

As this 'army law' is illegal, not according/respecting Thailands Constitution regarding freedom for all religions, it does more harm than good.  Many businesses/shops/bars loose a lot of money. Who like to go to a restaurant when part of the menu 'by law' is out of order?

CaptainJack69 | 19 February 2019 - 12:23:30

Why not have all non-'budhists' wear arm-bands with a distinguishing logo? They could be given tattoos with numbers to identify them. Perhaps round them up and keep them in specific areas, they don't need much space after all.

Even in Thailand religious freedom is mandated in the constitution. Any 'law' that says otherwise is thus illegal.

(BTW I don't drink)

Kurt | 19 February 2019 - 10:33:37

One would expect that Phuket health officers have more important things to handle on 'environment disaster island Phuket'. That fascination to let others feel and remind they are 'under the feet of enforcement', in a country were law enforcement is very rare. Yes, fascinating. Not talking about the ridiculous high imprisonment- and fine levels.

Shwe | 19 February 2019 - 06:21:28

pointless ban, those who want to drink buy it the day before, just annoys tourists and bar owners

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