Health officials today will consider extending restaurant hours to 11pm in a step that could lead to the lifting of a ban on drinking out.
Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Kalin Sarasin said the COVID task force and cabinet could act as soon as Tuesday to provide relief to restaurant operators as urged by the Thai Restaurant Association, which petitioned for closing times to be extended past 9pm.
If the extension is approved, it would clear the way for allowing alcohol consumption to resume. If left in place through April, the present ban would cost around THB90 billion (US$3 billion) in revenue, said Thanakorn Kuptajit, president of Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association.
Thanakorn said lifting the ban would stimulate the economy as shutting down entertainment venues and banning alcohol sales in areas where consumption is highest such as Bangkok, Samut Prakan, and Chonburi, has devastated revenues.
If health officials give a green light to the changes, they will go to the cabinet’s Tuesday meeting for approval.
Health officials yesterday announced 198 new cases of COVID-19, 191 of which were locally transmitted. Most were found in Samut Sakhon province, where the second-wave outbreak began last month. Twenty-one were found in Bangkok.
The numbers have been relatively stable for over two weeks.