The move comes after the venues owners were last ordered closed by Phuket officials in April, followed by a nationwide ban brought into effect by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok that is still in effect.
With the order to remain closed, the Phuket Sandbox scheme has brought no relief to bar staff and other workers, and venue operators in Phuket have not received any assistance from the national government, Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) told The Phuket News.
“Right now, Patong is still silent because everything is still the same. The provincial government still orders all entertainment venues to remain closed and bans the sale and consumption of alcohol at all restaurants,” he said.
“While theCCSA still bans all entertainment venues from re-opening while allowing restaurants to open without serving alcohol, bar operators must adapt and have opened their bars as restaurants,” he admitted.
“There are no officials giving help to them. They still have to live their lives and support their families, so I encourage them to open their bars as restaurants,” he said defiantly.
“I know it is illegal because they do not have a restaurant license. However, the officers from the local municipality and the police help them by allowing them to do so, so they can continue their business in that way,” he said.
“I do not understand why local officials do not have measures to help entertainment venue operators. I do not want to blame them for ordering them closed, but they must give us some help,” Mr Weerawit said.
“We have proposed them to allow us to reopen a long time ago. I feel so fed up and I can feel the insincerity of Phuket officers who have their normal salary each month and do not know how much we have been suffering,” he added.
“Some restaurants [sic] are crowded and serve alcoholic beverages. I have to accept that they really exist,” Mr Weerawit admitted.
“However, they are not different from bars that are open-air venues. For pubs, I understand that they should not be open right now because they can become crowded and use air conditioners,” he continued.
“I do not understand why they do not allow bars which have similar characteristics with restaurants to re-open. They do not allow us to reopen without any help. I think it is unfair for us,” he said.
Mr Weerawit challenged provincial officials over their effectiveness in handling the impact of the current outbreak on the island.
“I would like to tell the officers who join the daily meeting at Provincial Hall with the Phuket Governor, who is not elected by our people, right now you all are floating [ignoring the other people’s problems]. You have only orders to close venues, but no orders to help or fix anything,” he said.
“For example, the people confirmed as infected who want to receive medical treatment in hospitals are being denied and told to stay home because of insufficient beds. From my point of view, it is not the right way to manage [the situation].
“What about those who are not infected in the same house? Do you think the infected people will stay only in their house?” he posed.
“Right now, the management of people in Phuket infected [with COVID-19] is very poor. Not only me, but every person can feel that. The number of infected people keeps increasing, but you tell infected people to stay home. Why don’t they open hotels for those infected people?” he added.
“I think at this stage, Phuket must have about 300-400 new infected cases per day, if the health officers are not trying to hide anything from us. I think they are hiding because they are afraid that the Sandbox scheme will be cancelled,” Mr Weerawit said.
“I want the media to stimulate the officers. They have the meeting every day, but there is nothing new from them. For example, staff at the SuperCheap store have been infected for a long time, but they only just recently ordered it to close,” he noted.
“They are supporting capitalists so much that they are forgetting us and the grassroots economy,” he concluded.