Pattaya’s bars to remain closed until next year, CCSA reaffirms
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday dashed hopes of a happy new year for Thailand’s bar and club operators, confirming nightlife entertainment venues will remain closed until Jan. 16.
While holding out hope that the reopening could be moved up “if” the Covid-19 situation improves, no criteria what “improves” means nor any possible earlier date was mentioned at the CCSA briefing this afternoon.
Nightlife business associations and operators across the country had been pressing local, provincial and national government agencies this month after the CCSA said reopening would not come until mid-January.
Earlier, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had told the national on television that nightlife’s rebirth would be “considered” for Dec. 1. Many people foolishly took that as a hard date and accused the government of breaking a promise and “pushing back” a date it had never confirmed.
The decision now not to yield to pressure and move up the reopening date before New Year’s Eve should surprise no one, especially given a new Covid-19 outbreak tied to illegally open bars on Phuket’s Bangla Road.
Masquerading as “restaurants” with an easily obtained restaurant license as a pretense, the beer and hostess bars along the popular nightlife strip have been packed for weeks, with local police happily taking a payoff to turn a blind eye. Until people started falling ill with Covid-19.
Mass testing was performed Nov. 23 and, according to local media, 10 bars were ordered closed for at least three days. On Thursday, local media also reported that 24 customers and bargirls at Bangla bars had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The island’s case count has climbed steadily this week, with 128 new cases reported Friday, up from 110 Thursday and 86 Nov. 22. Dr Witita Jang-iam, deputy director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, pointed the finger directly at bars for the surge.
Also weighing loudly against reopening bars was conservative Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who railed Thursday against illegally opened bars in Bangkok. He conveniently failed to point out those bars were open due to shady connections with local police.
Against such headwinds, it was unlikely the CCSA would strap on a pair of flip-flops on the Jan. 16 date.
The CCSA said nightlife venue could now “apply” for an as-yet-unspecified certification to reopen next month. Requirements likely will be that all staff is fully vaccinated and health officials still haven’t given up their unworkable pursuit of having all customers also be fully vaxed.
What likely will emerge over the next three weeks is a list of soon-ignored requirements that were put out last June mandating no singing, no dancing and no lady drinks.
The original version of this story appears in the Bangkok Herald, a Pattaya Mail partner.