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Hard blows: Patong bar, pub, club operators suffer in vaccination registrations, underhanded antics

Hard blows: Patong bar, pub, club operators suffer in vaccination registrations, underhanded antics

PHUKET: Even before the 10-day snap shutdown of all pubs and bars on the island ordered on Thursday came into effect, entertainment venue operators in Patong had suffered heavily, bearing the brunt of not just a full year without international tourists, but also under bungling bureaucracy that saw entertainment venue workers initially delayed in being vaccinated against COVID-19.

patongCOVID-19Coronavirustourismeconomics
By The Phuket News

Saturday 10 April 2021, 09:00AM


The head of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) has openly criticised the system for people to register to be vaccinated for COVID-19, calling the system over-complicated and overlooking the need to prioritise entertainment venue workers in the key tourism town.

Initial hiccups in getting people to register saw the association having to repeatedly submit names and details of more than 500 staff and management, PEBA President Weerawit Kreuasombat told The Phuket News.

“At first, the Phuket government sent an order to our association instructing us to start a registration service, so we opened a written registration desk in front of Illuzion and very quickly had the names of 554 people working in Bangla,” he said.

“The 554 names are owners and workers in entertainment venues as well as some of their relatives in Patong,” he added.

“After we submitted the list of names, they told us to enter the name into the Excel file. They then explained to us that the team of registration officers had a lot of problems entering the information into the database, so I had to ask all of them to register again by themselves through the website,” Mr Weerawit explained.

“At this stage, I understand that we do not have enough medical staff because many people have to be vaccinated each day. A lot of people gather at the centres to be vaccinated, especially at Saphan Hin [near Phuket Town] and at Jungceylon shopping mall [in Patong],” he said.

“I think the registration through the website is quite difficult for some people. Most workers know how to do it… but some people are still confused by the conditions for being approved to receive the vaccine, such as their medical history, what is a chronic disease and just the age requirements,” Mr Weerawit noted.  

“I appreciate the effort from everyone and know well that everyone wants to do their best, however, I think we need local municipal officers to open for people to register and enter information into the system for local people, as I think that if each individual enters information by themselves, it will become a mess. Some people may be left behind,” he said.

“Today, they are trying to vaccinate all people, not only the front-line workers in the tourism industry. However, some entertainment venue workers told me that they are still afraid of the side effects of the vaccinations.

“I understand the fear of side effects, but I would say that the registration system is a fail [sic] as it requires people to go through a lot of processes,” Mr Weerawit said.

“Some people thought they were already registered just because medical health volunteers had come to their houses and asked for their information,” he noted.

Mr Weerawit also pointed out that foreigners working in tourism-related businesses in Patong had been neglected in the initial push to have people register to be vaccinated.

Asked whether the PEBA submitted names and details of foreigners working in Patong, he replied, “Nope, as we knew that the government asked only for only Thai people first.”

MGID

However, Mr Weerawit quickly pointed out, “For me, I think the government must provide vaccinations to everyone. No matter what nationality the workers are, they must be vaccinated. I want all of them to be vaccinated, but it is beyond my power to do that.

“At this stage, nationality does not matter, we have to focus on the type of work they do and where they work. However, I understand that for the government, they must focus on the majority of people first,” he said.

“I think all business operators who have foreign employees must provide them vaccinations even if they have to pay for them,” he added.

Following the several outbreak clusters of COVID19 emanating from entertainment venues in Bangkok earlier this month, resulting in enforced earlier closing times and heightened anti-COVID measures in the capital, Mr Weerawit pointed out that entertainment venues needed special attention.

In terms of how important it is for Patong entertainment industry workers, both staff and management, to be vaccinated as a priority, Mr Weerawit said, “It is very important because the workers are like those who are welcoming guests in our living room. They are like a connection between tourists and other groups of workers, like tuk-tuk drivers. The workers have close contact with tourists, so they have to be safe.”

However, Mr Weerawit also noted that the feeling on the street was a lesser fear of COVID than the ongoing economic pressure continuing to bring financial hardship for all people in the town.

“Basically, at this stage, we are getting used to COVID-19 news. I don’t think I am afraid of the infection as much as before, as the infection depends on how healthy we are and our immunity. The people at risk are only youths and elders. Right now, we also have vaccines, so the fear is becoming less and less,” he said.

“To be honest, the most important thing right now is income, the money in our pockets. This is for both venue operators and staff. We have tried everything we can think of. At this stage, we are not afraid of being infected with COVID-19, but of dying with no income.

“Bangla Rd is still quiet. We have a lot of customers only on the nights when we have concerts by famous singers. Overall, we are still suffering,” he said.

Despite the ongoing economic crisis and many ordinary people still unable to pay household bills, underhanded antics are still being practiced in Patong, Mr Weerwawit also noted.

“Although business is still very quiet, some officers who make their own benefits from operators keep coming to Bangla Rd. We are dying, as we have no income, but they keep coming to get benefits from us. It is like entertainment operators and workers are being beaten by the officers,” he said.

“In normal situations, we understand they do it, as we tend to operate in the grey areas, but for now we hardly have any income which must be spent on paying electricity bills and employees. I want this problem to be highlighted,” he said.

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Christy Sweet | 11 April 2021 - 13:38:32

What are the cold storage requirements on that Sino-vac? I can minimize  my exposure to SARS, but I cannot control vaccine going bad or rendered ineffective from   inadequate storage practices. 

Svcoquette | 11 April 2021 - 12:39:40

Kurt, thanks for the info. It's not just Phuket police. When I ride my bike from Malaysia I get stopped 3 or 4 times before reaching Phuket. I never pay though because I have all paperwork. I offer passport copy, NG they want original. I nicely offer with phone to take photo for receipt. 

Kurt | 11 April 2021 - 10:33:05

I have copies of passport and advice of RTP Lt General Prawit Thawornsiri in car and motorbike, + Thai car and motorbike licenses in my wallet. Any RTP officer try to extort I photograph and bring up a complain to Ombudsman in Provincial Hall. Everybody should do so, specially the venues owners, unless they themselve have something to hide. Get united against ROYAL Thai Police corruption.

Kurt | 11 April 2021 - 10:18:10

Published Wed Dec 17, 2014 in Bangkok Post by RTP Lt General Prawit Thawornsiri as a reaction on criticism in Australian newspapers: Don't need to carry their passports all the time. Carry a passport copy is ok. Police officers extorting bribes from foreigners are criminals. All entertainment venues in Patong pay bribes to Patong police pirate nest, not only at Bangla Rd. 

Sandbar | 11 April 2021 - 07:18:35

The next thing is that Farangs will be fined for not being "vaccinated" ...another revenue raiser! 

Christy Sweet | 10 April 2021 - 15:42:39

Again- unregulated capitalism is the problem. Either stop the"grey areas.." impossible in a culture that disregards laws routinely, or revert to a socialized system that cares more about people than cash. I don't need to be richer than someone else, why does anyone? 

Svcoquette | 10 April 2021 - 14:52:06

I know 3 people who had bars in O-Top. Every month the police would come around and collect 2000 baht from each bar. I asked the owner what happens if they don't psy. He said they harass the customers with passport checks (1000 baht fine on the spot for not carrying your passport) and other things. They find minor bar infractions etc. So they all pay.

CaptainJack69 | 10 April 2021 - 12:33:21

What's "grey" about the areas these bars are operating in? So long as they're not open past 2am (Bangla is an official entertainment zone) and they're not selling to or employing minors then they're 100% legal. Why is the blatant and rampant corruption still being tolerated? This is just a protection racket and it's precisely this kind of third world nonsense that Tha...

Capricornball | 10 April 2021 - 12:17:30

The guy just flat out calls out the corrupt cops for fleecing businesses all over the place...and he's complaining because him and his cronies aren't able to peddle the flesh and cater to the underbelly of the global tourist industry. Bangla Road is a cesspool of vice and corruption, and places like this tarnish the image and reputation of the entire country.

Kurt | 10 April 2021 - 11:33:39

One thing is clear after reading this article, Mr Weerawit experienced first hand how not making sense Thai bureaucracy blocks any straight forward handling of problems. Completely passing by the limited ability of many Thai to comprehend 

Galong | 10 April 2021 - 10:50:04

Patong tarnishes the image of Phuket, yet want priority treatment. Patong is a blight on our island and country! Patong just help cause the current new wave. Maverick is right - take some responsibility and do your own registering. 

Kurt | 10 April 2021 - 10:26:47

@Maverick, answer is many bar- & business owners employ (partly) not registered staff. Sometimes 'staff' can't get a health certificate ( for example, being sero-positive), than they get employed not registered for lower salary. Are than actually 'day by day' worker. Registration in Thailand is 'shed registration'. Except of foreigners of course.

maverick | 10 April 2021 - 09:22:08

Why doesn’t he encourage bar and business owners to help register their staff rather than blaming system, that would achieve more. Most well run business’s have already taken this approach.

 

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