The ban was implemented under Phuket Provincial Order No. 143/2565, regulating the operation of venues under COVID-19 restrictions.
The order brought into effect the exact same requirements announced by the CCSA last Friday (Jan 7).
Pubs, bars and other entertainment venues may open under the term “restaurants”, but only if they satisfy the SHA Plus (SHA+) requirements and the “Thai Stop Covid 2 Plus” COVID Free Setting operational requirements set out by the Ministry of Public Health.
All such businesses must be approved by the provincial communicable disease committee before opening as a restaurant, and even then they may serve alcohol and allow alcohol to be consumed on the premises only until 9pm.
Business operators have until Jan 15 to apply for the right to open their entertainment business as a restaurant, the order noted ‒ again, enforcing the same requirements as ordered by the CCSA Bangkok.
The provincial order included the standard warnings that breach of the order may be deemed an offense under Section 51 of the Communicable Diseases Act B.E. 2558, which may incur a penalty of a fine of up to B20,000.
Violating the order may also be deemed a breach of Section 52 of the act, which may incur a penalty of up to one year in jail or a fine of up to B100,000, or both.
Breach of the order may also be punished under Section 18 of the Royal Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations, incurring a penalty of up to two years in jail or a fine of up to B40,000, or both, the order warned.
The order also included the standard explanation that people have no legal right to contest the order as it had been issued under the power of the emergency decree.
The order was even backdated, marked as effective from Jan 9, making the 9pm shutdown of venues along Bangla Rd and other areas across the island on Sunday night now legal.
The order is to remain in effect until further notice.
While the 9pm ban on serving alcohol remains clear, the order to have pubs and bars in Phuket vetted before they are allowed to open has become an issue for provincial authorities as pubs and bars in Phuket have been operating as “restaurants” for months.
Governor Narong has not given any explanation as to what operators are supposed to do now: whether they must close until vetted and approved to open, or whether they may continue to trade while their application is being processed.
Although it has been plain common knowledge that pubs and bars in Phuket have been operating as restaurants, including confirmation by senior national officials visiting Bangla Rd in person, the CCSA has never publicly recognised that pubs and bars in Phuket were already open and trading as “restaurants”, while pubs and bars in other parts of the country were banned from opening.
The latest edict from the CCSA made no account for that, leaving Governor Narong with yet another bureaucratic hurdle that can only be accommodated by breaking the rules that the CCSA put in place.