Pattaya authorities clear up lockdown ambiguities

Some diligent Pattaya bars tried QR code scanners, but they failed to prevent a lockdown.

Anxious Pattaya expats have been bombarding City Hall helpline personnel and police station officers and volunteers with questions about the latest anti-Covid measures, effective May 1. Chonburi province (including Pattaya and surrounding areas), Bangkok and four other provinces have been designated dark-red areas with maximum strict controls. Pattaya Mail has collated the major responses.

Alcoholic drinks for home consumption
Consuming wine, beer or spirits anywhere except in your own home or private hotel room is illegal or highly suspicious. Unlike the April 2020 initial lockdown, retail shops and stores can currently sell liquor for that specific purpose, but subject to restricted hours. City Hall said it would not be illegal to purchase liquor in a restaurant, where you were awaiting the takeout food order, but instant gratification must be avoided at all costs.

In-dining forbidden
Eating in a restaurant is banned and the prohibition includes coffee shops. Takeout is permitted (until 9 pm) and that applies to cups of coffee as well as to meals or snacks, but consumption must be well away from the premises and without groups forming. The only exception would be the hotel where you are a resident and the management might, or might not, allow you to have a dinner guest. No alcohol.

Massage parlors begged to be excused the clampdown on entertainment, but sadly in vain.

Closure of night spots
Any premises offering “entertainment” at any time, with or without music or staff participation, remain closed. Government and provincial edicts have broadened the scope to zoos, gyms, swimming pools, massage parlors, billiard halls, cockfighting venues and many others. City Hall said they had advised phone callers that non-mentioned activities such as quizzes or dart matches, even if held outside of licensed premises, were not acceptable because of the danger of group infection.

Amenities still open
Beaches and swimming in the sea remain acceptable, but not eating or gathering in groups. Outside sports areas and some golf courses remain open, but anti-Covid health restrictions will apply and spectators discouraged. Reservoir areas and parks can be used for exercising but not for parties. Barbers and hairdressers remain in business at their sole discretion, although customers must wait their turn outside the unit. Beauty parlors were banned in the government edict. In the lockdown of April 2020, all were closed for several weeks.

Activities with more than 20 attenders
These are banned unless permission is obtained from the city authorities. But the converse that any activity with fewer than 20 people is thus legal is not true as social gathering increases the danger of infection. City Hall said that permitted group activities were events such as funerals and wedding ceremonies. Another example might be free food handouts to hungry people because queues will form. The immigration bureau said it was restricting the number of people inside the building at any one time.

Travel within and beyond the province
There are no formal restrictions in and out of Chonburi province, or within it, but people are requested not to leave their zone except in an emergency. However, other provinces may have different mobility rules which should be checked. There is currently no formal curfew in Chonburi, although police said they might politely question overnight car drivers as all public facilities are closed. Public and private sector staff are requested to work from home for the time being, wherever feasible. This is likely to mean that some public facilities and banks might introduce restricted hours for public attendance.

One of these guys could be heading for a fine as Pattaya mask wearing has become “de rigeur”.

Penalties for deviancy
Pattaya police said that non mask wearing or social gatherings in public could attract cash penalties, but added that the government preferred the principle of cooperation to harshness. Courts would decide. Police pressure would remain on illegal drinking parties and deliberate flouting of the regulations. Those foreigners found guilty of serious infringement would likely require a bail deposit and would eventually face a fine of between 50,000 – 100,000 baht in court. They would also face non-extension of their visa and a ban on returning to Thailand.