Pattaya Walking Street holds major rally just hours before alcohol ban lifted

Pattaya Walking Street business owners led by Naris Petcharat, Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, Boonanan Pattanasin and Damrongkiat Pinitkarn show solidarity in demanding the lifting of alcohol sales in restaurants. A few hours later the ban was lifted.

Hundreds of Pattaya hospitality and entertainment owners and employees marched on Walking Street Friday to demand that alcohol sales be allowed in restaurants. It was the finale of a months-long campaign to restore the profit center of many pubs but one that, it turns out, wasn’t needed.

Chonburi’s governor a few hours later released an order permitting booze sales. It came shortly after a similar order was published in Hua Hin and hours before the same thing happened in Chiang Mai.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had said on television in October that alcohol in restaurants would not be even considered until December. From that perspective, business leaders had only waited three days.

Thousands of frustrated business owners and employees gathered in Walking Street on Friday afternoon to demand the government allow them to open up their businesses again and most especially to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages to their customers.

But the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration undermined the prime minister’s message by allowing booze sales to return in Bangkok and three other “tourism pilot zones” Nov. 1. The idea of a uniform December end to prohibition was eroded further as provinces around Bangkok, Cha-am and other municipalities got the OK to turn the beer taps back on.

Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, chairman of the Chonburi Tourism Industry Council, felt Chonburi – specifically Banglamung and Sattahip districts – had been unfairly treated as, just like Bangkok, those two districts were designated “blue” tourism-pilot zones. Such zones were allowed to sell alcohol, which Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga had been doing since Nov. 1.

Pattaya reopened to foreign tourism at the same time as Bangkok, but was put at a disadvantage by its restaurants being “dry”, Thanet said.

Business leaders claimed the decision to allow alcohol sales always laid with Chonburi Gov Pakarathorn Thienchai. After all, it was Bangkok and Phetchaburi’s governors that approved alcohol sales in those regions. But Phakhathorn always passed off blame on the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. In the end, it was Pakarathorn, not the CCSA that issued the order.

Pattaya Police guard the entrance to Walking Street whilst the rally was being held to demand the opening of entertainment venues.
Walking Street emloyees and business owner cry out for help to the mayor, the governor, the elected MPs and whoever else that has the power and authority to pull them out of this hopeless predicament.