Closing time for bars will not be extended, says Anutin


Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced on Tuesday that his ministry was against the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s proposal to extend the operating hours of nightspots by two hours.

Political observers, however, have dubbed this announcement as bizarre, especially since Anutin is the leader of coalition partner Bhumjaithai and he appears to be going against a fellow party member, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Anutin announced his ministry’s stance just before attending the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. This was in response to an earlier announcement by Phiphat, who said the Cabinet was scheduled to deliberate his proposal to extend bar closing hours in specific tourist destinations on Tuesday.

Phiphat said he would ask the Cabinet to greenlight his plan to have nightspots in specific areas remain open until 4am instead of 2am.

He said if his proposal got the Cabinet go-ahead, he would immediately apply the new extended time to nightspots on Bangla Road in Phuket’s Patong area.

However, Anutin said the 2am closing time is perfectly fine because Covid-19 is still a threat.

“We also don’t want to see more road accidents caused by drunkards,” he added.

Observers believe Anutin is trying to distance himself from Phiphat’s proposal after it sparked criticism from civic groups and doctors, who believe that late closing hours will contribute to drunk driving and road accidents.

Closing time for bars will not be extended, says Anutin They also believe that Anutin and his party are still reeling from criticism over the policy of decriminalising marijuana, which doctors are blaming for the reported surge in ganja consumption among young people.

Late last month, the Alcohol Control Committee rejected Phiphat’s proposal to keep entertainment venues open until 4am, because they said this would see booze being served for 11 consecutive hours from 5pm.

The committee also cited findings of a study showing that extending the opening hours of nightspots would boost road accidents by 27% and cause as many as 20 casualties from drunk driving.

It also cited records showing that despite police checkpoints and strict enforcement of the law being in place, no more than 50% of drunk drivers are intercepted.

Deliberation on Phiphat’s proposal, which was welcomed by the tourism sector, has been postponed for several months and only added to the Cabinet agenda on Tuesday.

Related story:

Proposal to let nightspots remain open till 4am rejected