Pattaya alcohol rezoning effort stalls

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Four months after the government issued two conflicting orders banning alcohol sales near schools, Pattaya officials have begun to figure out how they can comply with dictates in a town overflowing with bars.

Chonburi Governor Khomsan Ekachai chaired the Nov. 6 meeting aimed at zoning the city in line with the National Council for Peace and Order’s wishes. The junta in July issued an order under Section 44 of the interim constitution banning alcohol sales “near” schools, but failed to set a minimum distance, leaving it up to local municipalities to set proper distances.

Chonburi Governor Khomsan Ekachai chairs a meeting aimed at zoning the city in line with the National Council for Peace and Order’s wishes.Chonburi Governor Khomsan Ekachai chairs a meeting aimed at zoning the city in line with the National Council for Peace and Order’s wishes.

The Prime Minister’s Office earlier had drafted its own order banning booze within 500 meters of schools. If implemented, that would have required the closure of a large number of bars throughout Pattaya, including many on Walking Street.

The Alcohol Control Board pulled that proposal after the Section 44 mandate was issued.

Chonburi since has established six committees to tackle the alcohol-zoning issue, but none have come up with any final agreement or plan. Last week’s meeting was intended to jump start the effort.

However, administrators made virtually no progress and the meeting adjourned without any agreement on the distance from schools at which alcohol sales would be banned, nor any rezoning of Pattaya’s many entertainment zones.

The deputy governor simply reiterated existing policy that bars and pubs are prohibited from serving minors and must adhere to legal operating hours. Those that violate those rules face closures of up to five years and/or revocation of their liquor licenses.