COVID UPDATE: HK SHUTS BARS, THAI PROVINCE BANS ALCOHOL, AUSTRALIA RATIONS BOOZE
By Susan Lewis
Credit: Macau Photo Agency/Unsplash
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt alcohol markets in Asia Pacific. Hong Kong has decided to shut bars and pubs for 14 days, Thailand’s Sakon Nakhon province bans all alcohol sale for two weeks while Australian off-trade has to ration booze to combat hoarding amid on-trade shutdown.
In Hong Kong, the government eventually decided to shut all pubs and bars from 6pm today for 14 days after some twists and turns.
The ban will cover all bars and pubs including sections of restaurants or club houses intended for the sale of alcohol.
Businesses failing to observe the ban are subject to a maximum fine of HKD50,000 (USD6,666) and imprisonment for six months.
According to contact tracing data released by the city’s health authority, over 50% of the newly confirmed cases are linked to pubs and bars.
In Thailand, the Northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon started banning sale of alcohol, both on-trade and off-trade, from Tuesday to at least until 16 April.
Violation of this rule in is punishable by a fine of 100,000 baht (USD3,066) or one year imprisonment.
The move aims at curbing group drinking at home, which is a popular activity in rural Thailand.
Thailand’s other 76 Provincial governments would follow Sakon Nakhon’s lead if infections keep surging.
The Thai government declared state of emergency last week, under which non-essential businesses are shut, all gatherings are banned and inter-provincial travel is discouraged.
In Australia, all non-essential services including pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship have been shut from 23 March, while restaurants and cafes have to switch to takeaway only.
Panic buying in supermarkets has since turned from toilet rolls and household essentials to wine and booze.
The state government of Western Australia announced booze ration order on 25 March. Each resident can only buy one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed drinks, three bottles of wine or one bottle of spirit or fortified wine each day.
National supermarket giants like Woolworths and Coles soon follow suit by introducing their own rationing rules.
Each customer can buy each day up to two cartons of beer, cider or pre-mixed drinks, a case of 12 bottles of wine, or two bottles of spirits, with a limit of two product categories.
Their shops in Western Australia will follow the stricter rules ordered by the state.
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