Governor Narong delivered the news at the meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee at Phuket Provincial Hall this morning.
The official order was issued this afternoon.
The forced closure of all entertainment venues on the island, including pubs, bars and karaoke venues, was to help protect against any spread of COVID-19 during the Songkran holidays, during which many tourists were expected to travel to Phuket, Governor Narong said.
In addition, the three venues that hosted mass parties last weekend, now at the centre of COVID infection concerns, have been ordered closed from tomorrow through Apr 21, Governor Narong added.
The venues have been closed so that they go undergo thorough cleaning and sanitising of all key areas, he said.
The writing was on the wall for forced closures last night when Phuket Vice Governor Vikrom Jakthee, speaking at a special meeting at Provincial Hall, revealed news of the closures. A video from the meeting was released only after Governor Narong had broken the news.
“The venue operators have not done anything wrong, but we have to do so because we need to protect against an outbreak during the Songkran holidays, during which we expect a lot of tourists will come to Phuket,” V/Gov Vikrom said.
“For the activities or events to be held during Songkran, just now Phuket Governor has already clarified what kind of activities we can hold. Basically, organisers must hold activities or under the disease control measures, such as wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, checking people’s body temperatures before they are allowed to enter the event areas,” he added.
“Venues where activities or events are held must have enough space for each person taking part, four square metres for each person… The activities that can be held are traditional activities, such as pouring water on elders’ hands. The number of people attending each event must be controlled, and the venues must have adequate air flow,” V/Gov Vikrom said.
“The measures from the committee may affect some people, but we need to ask for cooperation to follow the measures because, as you know, right now we are facing the third outbreak,” he noted.
“In Phuket, we have 10 people currently confirmed as infected with COVID-19. We do not want the virus to spread like before. Right now, if you are affected by the measures, we will try our best to control the situation as soon as possible so you all will be able resume your normal lives and the economy can move forward,” V/Gov Vikrom said.
Following the mass parties held last weekend, V/Gov Vikrom said, “For now, we have already ordered the venues to close for 14 days, so that they cannot use the places to hold any events. The places need to be sanitised.
“I have already ordered the Kathu District office to investigate and inspect the three venues. We will discuss later what we will do with the operators, but now we have ordered to close the venues for 14 days. After this, we may need officers to more frequently patrol areas or events that are at risk of spreading the virus.”
Asked by a reporter, “The organiser said they just held the events in order to stimulate the number of tourists and the economy on the island. What do you think?", V/Gov Vikrom replied, “To stimulate the economy, we have to know who gets to benefit and who are negatively affected. We as officials are pleased to help anyone looking to help our economy recover, but you must not cause problems too. If only four to five operators benefit, but all people on the island are affected, this is not what we want,” he said.
“From now on, if we find any operators violating the control measures, we need to decisively take action on them. We have arrested owners and ordered two venues to be closed for five years. We have also ordered many operators to close their venues for 15 days and one month,” he said.
“We understand well that the Phuket economy is still bad and do not want anyone to be in deeper trouble, but we need to ask for cooperation. Please follow the measures we set,” V/Gov Vikrom said.