Booze in Pattaya is still only semi-legal say police

You must drink alcohol only in restaurants or businesses clearly showing their sticker certification.

Thailand’s favorite seaside resort has given a sigh of relief after the ban on alcohol was lifted for diners.  Effective late December 3.  The Chonburi governor’s office has decreed the liberalization in restaurants and cafes provided they display prominently the Safety and Health Administration Plus sticker.  And you don’t need to prove you are eating a meal as you enjoy a beer.  A restaurant is also a bar.

The certification is only awarded to businesses – which can be souvenir shops or transport companies as well as hotels and eateries – which demonstrate they are keeping strictly to the policies of the Ministry of Health, are observing social distancing and have fully-vaccinated staff.  That should include ongoing self-antigen health testing, but that detail appears to have disappeared from recent official statements.

Meanwhile, local police are reminding the public at large that the new policy has restrictions.  Booze can be served only from 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 11 pm.  These time restraints reflect a 1970s military junta proclamation which sought to ban afternoon intoxication and ensured you were safely in bed before midnight.  The same rule was revived after the 2014 coup and still applies in supermarkets and convenience stores selling beer, spirits and wines.

SHA registered businesses in Phuket gather to promote health and safety standards.

Nobody seems sure how many Pattaya businesses are already approved by SHA.  City Hall said that all hotels registered with Thailand Pass carried the quality assurance certification, together with some other hotels and high-class restaurants.  An optimistic total might be in the region of 500 local businesses.  Although a flurry of applications is now expected via the SHA website, many small operators such as street vendors or small cafes simply cannot afford the registration fees or pass the stringent health requirements.

The pre-Christmas announcement by the Chonburi Communicable Disease Committee  was expected.  The ban on the sale of alcohol in restaurants had become a farce by the end of November with many owners even allowing wine glasses and beer bottles on tables rather than faking with teapots and cups.  Police checks were reserved for occasional raids on midnight parties in supposedly-padlocked clubs and private premises.

Granted for two years, SHA certification can be withdrawn at any time if health inspectors discover any backsliding.  For example, a vaccinated employee might be replaced by an ant-vaxxer or a cockroach might be found in the beef stew.  In practice, cancellation of certificates is a rare phenomenon.  Maintaining standards over time isn’t one of Thailand’s strongest points.

Restaurants and cafes must display prominently the Safety and Health Administration Plus sticker.

The purpose of law enforcement is to keep the lid on issues rather than to prevent or prosecute all crimes.  Over the next few weeks, expect to learn of an occasional raid on a restaurant serving a gin and tonic at three in the afternoon, or forgetting to erect an SHA-approved notice.  But the hassle visits will be few and far between.  The season of good will is almost upon us.


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