The move follows Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok, announcing yesterday (June 29) that all night entertainment venues may reopen but must strictly adhere to health guidelines set out to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Night entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues, beer halls and beer gardens, will be allowed to remain open until midnight. Health and physical distancing measures and monitoring will be required, along with the enforcement of social distancing rules. Customers must use the Thai Chana web platform to check in and out, Mr Taeewsin explained.
Mr Weerawit said that only about 20% of the 324 venues registered as PEBA members were expected to reopen tomorrow. “More will reopen later. They will start to open in the coming week,” he said.
The bars will reopen regardless of whether or not they can enforce all 22 rules announced last week, Mr Weerawit confirmed again today (June 30).
As of this morning, and even following a meeting with Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup, Mr Weerawit confirmed that he had still yet to receive a copy of the rules to be enforced.
Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Thanit Sermkaew also confirmed to The Phuket News today that his office had yet to receive the official rules to be applied to pubs, bars and other entertainment venues.
CCSA spokesman Mr Taweesin yesterday mentioned only some of the rules to be applied, but did not clarify which of the 22 rules were to be enforced, or if all 22 rules were to be upheld..
Among the 22 rules announced last week to be presented to the CCSA for approval were that all staff must wear face masks and face shields, but performers may wear face shields only. No bottles were to be served, all drinks were to be served in glasses. No pool table games (including snooker and billiards) and no playing of darts were to be allowed.
Further, the number of guests is to be restricted to allow for social distancing, with at least two metres between tables, or partitions installed, to ensure patrons are seated at least one metre away from each other.
Undermining the main reason people frequent such popular venues, the draft rules also called for groups to be limited to five persons, and guests were to be prohibited from dancing and singing, gathering, shouting and wandering around the premises
“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway,” Mr Weerawit said, adding that some of the first venues to open will do so at 6pm.
“If the full list of 22 rules for pubs, bars and entertainment venues are to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible.
“But we can follow some of the rules, such as social distancing, wearing masks, checking temperatures,” he said.
“I spoke with Mayor Chalermluck about this, and asked her to relax the rules [if all 22 rules are officially required]. I think she will receive the actual official notice tonight,” he added.
Mayor Chalermluck told The Phuket News today that she, too, had yet to receive a copy of all the rules to be enforced.
“The next thing to do is follow up with the CCSA about the rules. This is very important for the entertainment industry in Patong,” she said.
“I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses in Patong, because the rules announced by CCSA are the general rules for many places. But some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here. We have to apply the right rules and optimise them for businesses in Patong,” Mayor Chalermluck added.
Mr Weerawit dismissed pubs and bars being singled out in other countries as hotbeds for starting a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections.
“I do not care what some people claim is the risk of being in a bar. If the government is genuinely concerned about the risk of COVID-19 spreading, then it is not just about bars, pubs and entertainment venues. The risk of COVID-19 spreading applies anywhere where people are around, not only at bars and pubs,” he said.
Mr Weerawit left Phuket today to attend a meeting with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism in Bangkok tomorrow (July 1), where he will submit a formal request for the government to provide assistance to businesses in tourism-dependent Patong critically affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The request will ask for the government to provide free water and electricity to suffering business owners to help alleviate basic operating costs, to assist with negotiations with landlords to provide rent relief and for the government to provide SME loans for stricken businesses in Patong.
The request will also ask to extend the nightly closing time from midnight to 4am, and for the government to help provide equipment necessary for small businesses to check for possible COVID-19 infection among their customers.