Songkran may escape booze ban – but it’s jail for those that sell on election weekends
A leading public health official promoting a ban on alcohol sales on the main day of the Songkran celebration has suggested that the ban may not be in place this year.
It may have to wait until next year.
But he has reiterated that jail terms and fines await anyone selling alcohol for two twenty four hour periods on the weekend prior to the general election and on the election weekend itself later this month.
Dr Khajornsak Kaewjarat told Manager that plans to ban alcohol sales on April 13th this year will go before a ministerial committee on March 15th for a decision.
But he suggested even if the committee decides it is a good idea implementation for this year may be impossible due to lack of preparation time. He hopes the ban will be in place for next year, April 13th 2020, however.
Dr Khajornsak fielded a question from Manager about the economic impact of having an alcohol ban at Songkran by saying that the traditional Thai New Year celebration is a seven-day affair, not just a one-day event.
He said that the 13th should be set aside for families to make merit, a traditional aspect of Songkran.
He said that the 13th has accident statistics that are “four times worse” than the 11th or 12th of April.
Manager gave no figures to back up this assertion, notes Thaivisa.
But Thaivisa research shows that while Dr Khajornsak’s claims have some basis, in reality, his “four times worse” comment is not true.
According to figures from the Road Safety Directing Center for 2017 the number of accidents on the roads at Songkran for 11th, 12th and 13th April was 408,586 and 747 respectively with 40, 55 and 88 deaths.
In 2018 according to the same source, there were 447,578, and 819 accidents with 48,72 and 90 fatalities on those three days.
Dr Khajornsak further dismissed the idea that alcohol bans create economic trouble saying this is of secondary importance to public health and besides Songkran is a long holiday.
He stressed that alcohol bans would be in place for the weekend after next and the election weekend and that people contravening the sales ban would be liable to a six-month jail term or 10,000 baht fine or both.
No alcohol can be sold from 6 pm on the 16th to 6 pm on the 17th of March. Sunday 17th is a pre-voting opportunity for those voting outside of their home province.
The actual election day is March 24th. A further booze ban will be in place from 6 pm on the 23rd to 6 pm on the 24th.