Dr Phisit began his inspection at about 8pm, joined by Kathu District Chief Somprat Prabsongkram and other relevant officials, along with Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) President Weerawit Kreuasombat.
Along both sides of the street, venue staffers came out holding placards pleading for help from the government, as Patong’s entertainment industry remains devastated by the fallout from the COVID-19 economic crisis and the lack of tourists visiting the town.
The placards featured a host of messages written in Thai, including “Operators can’t live, staff can’t live either”, “Look at us, we’re dying and need help”, “Your red area, but our heart is here” and “What do we get from 4 months closure?” among others
Dr Phisit noted that the entertainment venues on Bangla Rd were showing good cooperation in upholding the measures required of them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In total, in addition to closing at midnight, pubs, bars and other entertainment venues must comply with 18 health regulations set out especially for the entertainment industry. Operators have been warned to comply with the regulations, introduced under the Emergency Decree, or face being ordered to close.
“As I can see, the venue operators are strictly complying with the government regulations, but only a few establishments are open, as only a small number of tourists are coming here,” Dr Phisit said.
Mr Weerawit pointed out that the Patong nightlife area had been open for just over one week, and that there had been very few visitors.
“A lot of people came on the first day [of reopening, July 1], but that may have been just because people missed the atmosphere of Bangla Rd,” he said.
“At this stage, less than 30 venues are open, but if the economic situation stays bad like this and staff do not get help from the government, some venues may need to be closed permanently, as operators cannot handle the expenses,” he said.
“I have already proposed to the Patong Mayor to open Bangla Rd for local people to sell products, in order to make the atmosphere better and help tuk-tuk and taxi drivers,” Mr Weerawit said.
“And I have already filed a formal request to the central government for help, and asked the Phuket Government to help mediate between landlords and tenants to reduce the rents [being levied] and the cost of utilities,” he added.
“Venue operators cannot get through this situation alone, as operators must face a lot of costs, even though most staff are only asking for the chance to make money from tips, they are not even asking for full salaries.”