As detailed in the official police report No.2727/2565, the White Lagoon poolside restaurant was revealed to have violated emergency decree laws relating to limiting the spread of the virus by breaching the official closing time of 11pm.
Additionally, the venue was found to have violated Section 56 of Article 38 of the Hotel Act pertaining to causing civil unrest by creating undue noise and nuisance which carries with it a fine between B20k-100k.
Furthermore, it was also confirmed that the hotel had been caught in possession of baraku (an alternative type of tobacco use otherwise known as Hookah) which contravenes Consumer Protection Board Order No. 9/2015 dated Jan 18, 2015 and will see another fine imposed.
The order stated that a further fine would be charged for the venue operators admitting but not reporting the incident to officials, although the exact amount has yet to be carified. The two-week closure of the restaurant came into effect as of yesterday.
Interestingly, local Thai media failed to name either the White Lagoon restaurant or the Patong Bay Hill Hotel in their reports, despite both venues being clearly stated in the official report released by authorities yesterday.
The hotel came under scrutiny after lawyer Sittra Biabangkerd posted a video clip on his Facebook page last Saturday (Apr 16), saying he had received complaints from Phuket residents that the hotel had opened its entertainment venues beyond the legal closing time for years, annoying the public with excessive noise. His 3-minute video clip showed a poolside venue with music playing to a number of late-night patrons.
Assistant national police chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn arrived in Phuket the next day (Sunday, Apr 17) and announced that five top-ranking officers at Patong Police Station, including Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabadee, had been transferred pending an investigation into allegations that police had allowed the venue to remain open late.
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew ordered an investigation into the incident, no doubt wanting to avert any further national attention after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered him to take action after elaborate water fights during Songkran made headlines, despite a country-wide ban on such activities.
Yesterday, Chief Administrative Officer of the Phuket Provincial Office (Palad) Somprat Prabsongkhram, revealed that further investigations by The Kathu District Administrative Department and the Patong Provincial Police Station have determined that the venue had violated Phuket Provincial Order 1403/2565 outlining regulations for places and activities that pose a risk of spreading COVID-19 and the limitation on serving or making alcohol available to patrons beyond the legal time limit.
Mr Somprat went on to say that when questioned by Patong police during the investigation into the case, the manager of the White Lagoon restaurant, Anurak Wichitnaweehad, admitted to the violations and a subsequent fine would be imposed for this, although he did not specify any exact amount.
Mr Somprat added that the possession of the illegal baraku aparatus would also carry a fine in due course.
He further explained that if there was any further violation during the two-week period of closure then it will be deemed to be a violation of the official’s order, which is an offense under Section 368 of the Penal Code.
Mr Somprat concluded by confirming it was possible for the venue operator to appeal the closure by writing to Phuket Governor Narong within 15 days from the date of receipt of the order pursuant to Section 44 of the Administrative Practices Act, although he did not indicate whether this would likely be availed.
The outcome came after Phuket businessman Preechavude ‘Prab’ Keesin defended the opening of the Patong Bay Hill hotel beyond the COVID-mandated 11pm closing time, saying the hotel operating its nightlife venues at least brought some financial relief to people in need, people who are suffering due to the economic impact of COVID regulations.