Pattaya bar owners demand end to alcohol-ban charade

Lumpung Hamilton hands over petitions from 400 nightlife business operators to Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome demanding they be allowed to open their bars and sell alcohol.

Nearly 400 bar and entertainment business owners petitioned Pattaya’s mayor and Chonburi’s governor to lift the ban on alcohol sales and put the city on even footing with Bangkok and three other tourist zones.

Lumpung “Lisa” Hamilton, chairwoman of Jomtien Pattaya Entertainment Business Operators Club, led the delegation to Chonburi’s provincial hall and Pattaya City Hall Nov. 16, handing petitions with the names of close to 400 Pattaya nightlife businesses that are currently closed or, as restaurants, are unable to sell booze.

The letters point out the disconnect of allowing Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga businesses to sell alcohol while keeping Pattaya – with a vaccination rate of more than 80 percent and only a few dozen new Covid-19 cases a day – dry.

“We can only watch others sell alcohol in other provinces, in places like Khao San Road in Bangkok or Bangla Road in Phuket,” Hamilton told the media. “How is this fair to us? Pattaya is famous for its nightlife and entertainment sector.”

Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome said that he is relentlessly petitioning the CCSA to change Pattaya/Banglamung and Sattahip districts into “blue” tourist zones.

Maddeningly, the venues mentioned by Hamilton are not supposed to be open. They are bars, masquerading as restaurants getting a cheap restaurant license. And police in both areas – unlike Pattaya – have allowed the charade to continue.

Now, with the introduction of a “Stop Covid Plus” certification, even bars that cannot obtain restaurant licenses will be allowed to serve alcohol, highlighting the central government’s continued refusal to officially allow nightlife venues to reopen as an even bigger artifice.

The business owners also highlighted the irony of the government allowing major events such as the Pattaya Music Festival and upcoming Fireworks Festival while simultaneously keeping the city’s famous nightlife closed. Tourists are skipping Pattaya in favor of other areas despite fact Pattaya is the third-most vaccinated destination in the country.

It’s simply unfair, was the business owners’ bottom line.

Beer Bars have been closed for two years, the operators have lost all their money and abandoned the city for good.

Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome noted that life is not always fair. But he and Chonburi officials have been lobbying the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration to change Banglamung and Sattahip districts as “blue” tourist zones.

He said there have been several low-level meetings with CCSA representatives and that he anticipates a change to “blue” could happen at the administration’s next major meeting at the end of November.

Chonburi Gov. Pakarathorn Thienchai did not meet the business owners, sending instead chief administrator Chawanin Wongsatitjirakan, who made no comment or commitment other than to thank the owners for their petition.