Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Khunplume said yesterday, Nov. 24, 2021, that he continues to urge the government to legally reopen the sale of alcohol in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues for New Year after numerous groups, entrepreneurs and associations from many sectors submitted letters, petitions and protests in the past week.
Sonthaya Khunplome, told local media: “Pattaya is one of the currently designated 17 major tourist zones in Thailand. However, currently, only four provinces in Thailand are allowed to sell alcohol in restaurants, namely Bangkok, Samui, Phang Nga and Phuket. This has caused a lot of anger and trouble in other areas, especially here in Pattaya, which is largely dependent on the nightlife and entertainment industry.”
Media outlets immediately note that this “exception” was also extended to a few other islands and areas and while in technical terms only “restaurants” were allowed to open, in fact, it has also opened the gates in some places, such as Khaosan Road in Bangkok and Bangla Road in Phuket to sell alcohol in bars that have been granted “temporary” restaurant permits, without food or kitchens, according to those on the ground.
Meanwhile, hospitality industry owners in Pattaya, a tourist-dependent city and the third most vaccinated and visited place in Thailand, had been looking for a similar “exception” from a national ban on bars and nightlife that have been open for weeks. In 2019, Pattaya was the 19th most visited city in the world with barely 10 million visitors, with many analysts attributing this largely to the entertainment and nightlife sector that is currently closed.
Bars, nightlife, nightlife and indeed the entire overnight economy in Thailand have been closed nationally in Thailand since April this year, approaching eight months, due to Covid19 measures, and remain virtually the only business sector still closed by the Thai government with what owners claim is little to no financial help or support.
Restaurants in most of the country, as previously mentioned, cannot even legally sell alcohol due to authorities’ concerns about customers who essentially use restaurants as bars. Thai authorities have continued to attribute alcohol gatherings as a primary carrier of Covid-19.
“More than 80 per cent of the people in Pattaya have been vaccinated, as well as the surrounding area. Pattaya currently only allows the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and local groceries, but not in hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants. Many people believe that this is not fair because people buy and drink in shops every night in public areas such as streets and beaches and food courts.
The coastal city of Pattaya currently has festivals every weekend to attract tourists to the city and entrepreneurs continue to complain about this, claiming that they bring thousands of tourists to the city who purchase from convenience stores and drink in public areas, but legally not to a restaurant or bar and drink. We had planned these festivals months in advance and did not expect the alcohol ban imposed by the central government and the CCSA to be in effect at this point. We understand where entrepreneurs come from and why they are so frustrated, which has led to many petitions, protests and pleas to open in recent weeks.”
The mayor of Pattaya, in turn, explains:
“We have tried several times to request an exemption from the Governor of Chonburi, the Chonburi Health Service, the CCSA as well as the government. The decision to reopen Pattaya’s nightlife, bar and entertainment industry is not mine alone, it rests with multiple agencies and departments.
Based on the current feedback we have, it is likely that nightlife venues may open earlier around early December. The CCSA will meet this week on Friday, November 26, and they are well aware of the situation in Pattaya and have stated that it will be an important point of discussion. However, no commitments or guarantees can be made, the mayor concluded.
Meanwhile, nightlife operators in Soi Buakhao also filed an official letter this week advocating for reopening.
On Tuesday (November 23), Romchale Kranes, the representative of the ‘Save us’ group (Bar Owners Pattaya), 46 bars in the Soi Buakhao area, submitted a letter to Pattaya City.
They are calling for their bars to reopen in December after being closed for nearly eight months in a row, and five months earlier since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is only the latest group to request reopening, as nine separate associations and at least four bar groups have filed similar petitions and letters in the past two weeks.
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