Businesses that abide by the current law will not suffer in the campaign’s fight against underage revelry, police have assured.
But licensees of venues that sell alcohol to minors will face the full brunt of legal action, Phuket City Police Deputy Superintendent Khunnadet Nanongkhai told The Phuket News.
“A first-time offender may have his or her license to sell alcohol revoked and face a five-year ban on the licensee applying for a new permit,” he said.
“Our priority is to ensure that pubs and shops do not sell alcohol to minors (in Thailand, persons under 20 years of age), but adults or students aged over 20 can buy alcohol during the permitted hours,” Pol Lt Col Khunnadet confirmed.
Confusion reigned throughout the country over the “school alcohol ban” after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) ordered on July 23 for police to take immediate action against any venues selling alcohol within 300 metres of any “educational institution”.
That order was confounded by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha two days later issuing an order for police to target any venues selling alcohol “near” what he called “education institutions”.
What constituted an “education institution”or how far in metres “near” was, was never defined, prompting officials to quickly backtrack on the crackdown and leave the interpretation to the local police.
However, following the signing of the Campus free Zone MoU on Sept 14, Excise Department Phuket Office Director Pairat Kulima told The Phuket News, “We cannot enforce a no-alcohol zone in Phuket of any extended distance from a campus as that would leave no places for any venues to sell alcohol, which is not realistic.
“However, we can enforce an alcohol-free zone in the areas immediately surrounding campuses, and we can still make sure that venues ‘nearby’ are not selling alcohol to students who are still minors.”
Students who are of legal age to drink alcohol must not do so while still in uniform, Mr Pairat confirmed.
“That is the rule of the university. The students can be dismissed from enrolment at the university if they break the university’s rules.”
More than 15 business owners signed the MoU to create a one-kilometre “clear zone” around Phuket Rajabhat University, north of Phuket Town.
Venues, including pubs, bars, cubs with sexy dancing and snooker halls, will be randomly inspected to ensure that minors are not drinking alcohol.
Further, the venue owners will be discouraged from allowing the premises to become hangouts for possibly wayward youths, Pol Lt Col Khunnadet explained.
“We will check snooker clubs, internet and game shops and other places where students like to hang out, and we will be keeping an eye for drugs and other illegal activities such as gambling,” he said.
“Officers from the Excise Department will cooperate with the police and inspect venues in the area more regularly,” Mr Pairat added.
“We will revoke their alcohol license for five years for the first offence. If they are caught again, we will ban for life. That means they cannot be issued an alcohol license anywhere in Thailand,” he added.