An art gallery and cafe in Pattaya was raided by police shortly after midnight over Christmas weekend after it reportedly staged a late-night Christmas party with more than 100 patrons and was in fact a nightlife venue, in conflict with the orders of the Provincial Committee on Communicable Diseases.
Officially, all nightspots across the country are legally closed, as are bars and similar venues due to Covid-19 rules, but in reality, many hangouts have changed their setup, profiling themselves as restaurants or even art galleries to open to stay open.
Pattaya police arrived at the Ma Ha Na Cafe in Jomtien near Soi 9 around 01:46 AM after police patrolling loud music was heard from a hall.
When the police arrived, they found more than 100 Thai and foreign customers dancing along to loud music without social distancing, wearing masks or properly protecting themselves from the virus. Many customers made a swift exit through the rear door of the venue after spotting the police, though Pattaya police said the customers were not their concern, but the owner of the hospitality business itself.
With all these charges looming over the customers, police also found an electronic vape in a Thai customers belongings, and as we all know, Thailand has one of the strongest anti-vaping laws in the world, with fines higher than many other offences.
An owner of one catering business then presented himself to officials and reportedly admitted he knew he was breaking the law by hosting late-night gatherings, but more customers had turned up for the Christmas celebration last night than expected, calling off the party would have been an option may have been, but now they could finally earn some money to pay off the debts incurred during the long shutdown.
Venues such as alcoholic beverage restaurants or art galleries, even if Christmas events are being held, must be closed by 11 pm. under current Chonburi orders, the police added.
Initially, the alleged owner, who was not named to the press by Thai police, was charged with illegally operating a service facility, selling alcoholic beverages for the specified time and violating the order of the Chonburi Community Disease Control Committee. The owner was described as fully cooperative by the police.
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