The shutdown, announced by Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana late Tuesday night (see story here), come into effect yesterday, leaving the usually busy Bangla Rd shrouded in darkness.
“PEBA members will meet up later to discuss this order because being closed for 14 days is affecting a wide range of tourism-related businesses,” Mr Weerawit told The Phuket News.
“The amount of economic damage to Patong entertainment venues alone is at least B100 million a day,” he added.
Mr Weerawit argued that Phuket should not be subjected to the same level of constraint as other places in the country due to the island’s reliance on tourism.
The Cabinet resolution on Tuesday gave provincial governors discretion in how to enforce the health provisions regarding COVID-19.
Phuket Govenor Phakaphong in announcing the shutdown said he was just following what others were doing and that Phuket should not be an exception.
In Pattaya, officials have ordered all bars to close but allowed restaurants to stay open as long as they obey specific requirements, such as patrons keeping at least one metre distance from each other.
“Patong cannot use the same policies as in central Thailand,” Mr Weerawit said. “I will send a letter to Phuket Governor insisting this simple for the reason that Phuket province is different from other provinces.
“Here is a tourism province. If any service is closed for a long time, it will have a big impact on the economy and a lot of people, "Mr Wirawit added.
Patong business magnate and President of Patong Development Foundation Preechavude “Prab” Keesin was more accepting of the shut down.
“I understand the order for all entertainment venues to close to prevent the spread of the disease. We have to accept the unavoidable impacts of the measure,” he told The Phuket News.
“Some governments have already shut down their whole countries, while others have shut down only some cities,” he said.
“But I am worried about the people who work for entertainment venues. They were paid day to day, and are directly and immediately affected by this order. I wonder how long they can live on whatever money they have set aside,” Mr Preechavude said.
Along Bangla Rd yesterday (Mar 18), not only were bars closed, but also restaurants, convenience stores, and small stalls selling food and water.
Some bars in side streets had signs saying closed due to COVID-19 and that will open early next month. One sign said the venue would re-open in September, Others simply said, “Closed.”
Bar staff on Bangla Rd that The Phuket News spoke to said they already had been paid for the days worked so far this month, but they have lost their jobs.
“Now we are waiting for [termination of employment] compensation from our employer, and then we will go back home to other provinces,” one staffer said.
The group of now-former bar staff then hugged each other and took photos for the memories, then walked off.