Even as tourist districts in Ayutthaya, Korat and Cha-Am get permission to sell alcohol, Chonburi’s governor kept Pattaya and the province dry in new orders disease-control orders released late Wednesday.
Gov. Pakarathorn Thienchai issued the latest round of relaxed regulations, basically allowing most provincial businesses – except bars, clubs and entertainment venues of course – to resume “regular” hours.
Restaurants can again stay open until midnight, but they still cannot serve booze, even though Banglamung District, which includes Pattaya, and Sattahip District last month were designated “blue” pilot tourist zones.
Despite weeks of heated protests and anguished pleas from struggling business owners and industry associations, Pakarathorn declined to explain why or justify the continued alcohol ban, even as other “blue” zones get their booze back.
Ayutthaya Gov. Weerachai Nakmas Wednesday night gave the OK for restaurants in Muang District to sell alcohol until 9 p.m. At the same time, four districts in Nakhon Ratchasima got the same privilege. Days earlier, Cha-Am got the same deal from Phetchaburi’s governor.
Pakarathorn’s continued silence is infuriating business owners who simply can’t understand how “red” coronavirus surveillance provinces like Ayutthaya or areas like Bangkok with hundreds of more new Covid-19 cases every day are selling alcohol and Chonburi, which reported only 139 new cases – 43 in Banglamung – Thursday, can’t.
Jomtien Beach restaurant and bar owners ambushed the governor outside the Chonburi Public Health Department Nov. 30 when he arrived to attend a Communicable Disease Committee meeting. They gave him a petition with the signatures of 460 bar and restaurant owners demanding he relieve the prohibition.
He accepted the letter without offering any justification, other than to claim the power to resume alcohol sales rests with the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
Ayutthaya’s Weerachai appeared to back this up, telling the media Wednesday the Muang District booze sales were approved by the CCSA.
As for what is newly permissible in Chonburi after Wednesday’s orders, the most significant changes related to crowd sizes and closing times.
Gatherings of up to 500 people are allowed, except at meetings, conventions and exhibitions, which can have up to 1,000 people. Also exempted are large-scale events approved by the CCSA, such as the Pattaya Fireworks Festival, which saw thousands of people packed shoulder to shoulder on Pattaya Beach in no apparent worry about disease transmission.
Allowed to resume regular hours are schools, restaurants, malls, beauty clinics, spas, massages, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo or piercing shops. All must close by midnight.
Also resuming normal hours are public parks, sports fields, swimming pools, outdoor and indoor exercise places, fitness centers, cinemas, theaters, amulet markets, botanical gardens, zoos, game and internet cafes, banquet rooms and hotel meeting rooms, with no alcohol, of course.