Rapid Covid testing in Pattaya gets off to a slow start

A private sector company offers 100 baht swab tests in Walking Street.

Contrary to expectation, Pattaya and a few other tourist-orientated areas have survived the total ban on the consumption of alcohol in restaurants effective nationally on January 9. The new deadline in Pattaya is 9 pm to replace the current one of 11 pm. However, the military-run Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration is mandating a host of health and safety rules for staff, with one also requiring all customers to show a rapid antigen test taken within the last 72 hours.

There is currently very little evidence of any checks whatsoever in popular tourist areas such as Walking Street, Soi Buakow and Sexy Soi Six. The sole testing booth in Walking Street is a private sector booth offering swab tests with the timed and dated result transferred to your mobile phone for 100 baht. Only two establishments, one a dance hall and the other a music bar, appeared to be showing any interest in whether customers were qualified to enter or not.

Parts of Soi Buakhao have become Pattaya’s most popular imbibing area.

Over on Soi Buakhao, which has the busiest nitery scene in town, there is no sign of the promised local authority free testing booth and no evidence of any check on customers in the numerous bars. On our visit, several were crowded and mask-wearing obviously being ignored. It was the same story on Sexy Soi Six where several gogo bars have turned themselves into open-front restaurants. The only evidence of food on display was the occasional pile of peanuts.

However, the game changes on January 9 when booze time ends at 9 pm. The CCSA spokesman hinted at the significance when he said that nightlife would soon be ending much earlier. It is well known internationally that sales of alcoholic beverages pick up as the evening gets later. So the real issue is now whether the police will enforce the 9 pm quasi-curfew on serving booze. Watch this space.