Pattaya, Chiang Mai restaurants finally get OK to sell alcohol

A restaurant in Soi Bua Khao seems to be doing reasonably well on Friday night now that the alcohol ban is lifted.

Friday brought cheers to Thailand’s last three major tourists and expat cities under an alcohol sales ban as restaurants in Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin were given the go-ahead to sell booze again.

Orders, both official and not, said Chonburi’s Sattahip and Banglamung districts – the latter of which includes Pattaya – can finally resume alcohol sales in SHA-registered restaurants. Specifically, sub-districts where alcohol is allowed are Koh Larn, Sri Racha, Koh Sichang in Chonburi and only Najomtien and Bang Saray in Sattahip.

In Chiang Mai, booze is allowed in five districts: Mueang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Doi Tao and Chom Tong.

In Prachuap Khri Khan Province’s Hua Hin District, which got the go-ahead early Friday with immediate effect, only Muang Hua Hin and Nong Gae sub-districts got the green light.

Chonburi’s relief came hours after prominent business owners from the hotel, nightlife, entertainment, restaurant, retail and tourism staged a major rally on Walking Street to demand the resumption of alcohol sales.

Given how small most sub-districts are, there’s little chance of enforcement in the unlucky sub-districts where restaurants certainly would lose business by patrons in some cases going across the street to another pub.

In Chiang Mai, and possibly elsewhere, it also will be required that eateries pass a “Covid-Free Setting” assessment, which requires all staff be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, that staff check the vaccination or testing status of customers and the other usual disease-control measures be enforced.

In Bangkok, few places other than Khaosan Road have shown any inclination to check vaccination cards.

The certification is simple to get and, as evidenced by girly bars and watering holes in Bangkok serving booze without even an on-site kitchen, a blank check for bars to reopen despite such places supposedly being closed until Jan. 16, or even later.

It remains to be seen how lenient police in Pattaya and Chiang Mai will be compared to their short-sighted brethren in Bangkok, where anything goes if the proper wheels are greased.

Chonburi’s alcohol rules allow sales from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., although few restaurants have ever observed an afternoon booze-sales prohibition so ludicrous, even the tourism minister publicly called it pointless this week. Certainly, no hotel bars or restaurants will honor it.

The relaxation is effective immediately. In Chiang Mai, booze sales will resume from Dec. 6 and also be allowed 11-11, with the exception of the three afternoon hours. Hua Hin’s actually was backdated to Dec. 1.

There, as everywhere, rules also allow for live entertainment, provided non-singing band members wear masks, there’s no interaction between the crowd and the band and the audience can’t sing.

The original version of this story first appeared in the Bangkok Herald, a Pattaya Mail partner.