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Phuket bars, clubs closed for 14 days over COVID-19 fears

Phuket bars, clubs closed for 14 days over COVID-19 fears

PHUKET: Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana has given the order for all entertainment venues in Phuket, including bars, to close for 14 days.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 18 March 2020, 08:41AM

Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana last night gave the order to close all entertainment venues in Phuket for 14 days – effective today (Mar 18). Photo: PR Dept

Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana last night gave the order to close all entertainment venues in Phuket for 14 days – effective today (Mar 18). Photo: PR Dept

The order, issued last night, comes into effect today (Mar 18).

All sports venues, cinemas and massages shops must remain closed for 14 days, Governor Phakaphong said,

Governor Phakaphong explained that the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee’s decision to close all entertainment venues followed the Cabinet’s resolution yesterday.

The same closure of all entertainment venues is in force in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, he added.

“As for remedial measures for those affected, the government has issued many remedial measures and so the Phuket Government will follow the national measures, not exclusive measures only for Phuket,” Governor Phakaphong said.

Owners of venues can file a request directly to the Phuket Governor’s Office to be considered whether their venues should be closed or not, he noted.

“However, they must have good reasons to support the consideration under the Communicable Disease Act, B.E. 2558 (2015),” he added.

Official notices announcing the closure will be sent to about 300 venues to be closed in Phuket, he said.

“Those venues which match the definition of a place of entertainment will also have to be closed, and whoever violates the announcement will be punished according to the Communicable Disease Act,” he warned.

Penalties for any person who violates or fails to comply with the order of a communicable disease control officer range from up to one month in jail or a fine of up to B10,000, or both, up to one year in prison or a fine of up to B100,000, or both, depending on which section of the act the transgressor is deemed to have violated. (See Communicable Disease Act here.)

Also of note, Section 48 of the Communicable Disease Act also allows people to seek damages for any harm done by any enforcement of the act.

Section 48 stipulates: “In performing the act by a communicable disease control officer under this Act, if damage has occurred to any person or property of any person from the surveillance, prevention or control of diseases, the official service shall pay compensation for the damage occurred to such person as necessary.

“Reimbursement of the damage under paragraph one shall be in accordance with the criteria, procedures and conditions prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.”

 Governor Phakaphong repeated that health officials in Phuket have been screening arrivals at Phuket International Airport and other ports of entry “continuously”.

“As for the tourists who come from the serious risk countries [Italy, Iran, South Korea, China, including Hong Kong and Macau], the government has taken measures by cancelling visas on arrival, so that tourists from those areas must have a visa before coming,” he said.

“For example, for Chinese people traveling to Thailand wanting to enter the country on a visa on arrival, which is issued at the airport, the authorities have now canceled their visa-free visa and visa on arrival [privileges], therefore [nationals from] any country that is subject to a visa on arrival cannot come [without first having a visa].

Of note, Governor Phakaphong made no mention of whether or not he considered the cancellation of visas on on arrival applied to Russian passport holders. (See stories here, here and here.)

Governor Phakaphong did explain that any persons arriving from the six risk areas wanting to enter Thailand must submit at a Royal Thai Embassy or consulate documents including a medical certificate issued within the past 48 hours confirming that the applicant was not infected with COVID-19, and they must have health insurance of at least US$100,000 (about B3.223 million) – both requirements already long made clear by the DDC on its website. (See here.)

Mitsu Tiansin Motors

Governor Phakaphong also repeated that that officials had the power by law to enact the precautionary measures.

However, amazing and according to a report issued by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department of Thailand and confirmed by a reporter from The Phuket News at the meeting late last night, Governor Phakaphong also said, “To get a free visa people must apply at an embassy or consulate by using the same supporting documents.”

The statement throws into confusion whether or not free visas are actually still available.

“This issue has been determined by the central government that all provinces must do the same,” he said, apparently unaware of which government department issues visas.

Governor Phakaphong did stress, “This is not the authority of the Communicable Disease Committee. This issue is relevant to international law, it is about rights and violation of rights supported by law set by the central government. In this regard, the Phuket Passport Office will continue to publicise information to the public and the media.”

Governor Phakaphong did not explain why the Phuket Passport Office, of any office in the province or in the country, would be disseminating that information, other than the general knowledge that the Phuket Passport Office operates under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with its main role to issue passports to Thais.

Seemingly responding to some reports posted somewhere, Governor Phakaphong also said that health officers screening for the virus since Jan 5 “does not mean shutdown, which prohibits people entering or leaving the city.”

“The facts did not proceed in that way,” he said.

Phuket was the first province to start screening arrivals from China, he said.

“We have documentary evidence to prove the province has been doing this since since January 4, 2020,” he said, instantly contradicting himself over the actual date when the screening started.

“In terms of helping tourists we have opened a center, which is a confirmation that the Phuket Government and relevant government agencies in Phuket are aware and will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but we must ask for cooperation from the people.

“It must be a social responsibility, with people taking care of their own health and monitoring those around them, such as relatives, and report any developments to the proper officials.

“Finally, we would like to people be careful about sharing posts [online]. Sharing information that has not been check will make the situation worse,” he said.

In closing, Governor Phakaphong again attempted to mitigate his own responsibility in any issues involving the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, including the lack of information provided to the public about any suspected cases of COVID-19 in Phuket.

“Information about infected persons or persons suspected of being infected cannot be disclosed according to the Communicable Disease Act B.E. B.E. 2015 and it is the authority of the Ministry of Public Health to disclosure any information [regarding this].

“It is not the responsibility of the governor, the role of the governor has the duty to comply with the Cabinet and the Minister,” he said.

Governor Phakaphong also responded to heavy criticism levelled by Phuket’s major tourism business associations, including calling for establishing a non-government command centre being set up and having journalists releasing information to the public, not government agencies. (See story here).

“In the event that the private sector calls for the establishment of a crisis management center in this matter, they have not looked at details,” he said.

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Dicko | 19 March 2020 - 14:11:52

Anyone else have people they know (farangs mainly) that have all the symptoms of Covid-19 but local hoso(Bangkok Hospital - Phuket) are refusing to do any tests and are just sending them home with instructions to self-isolate? 

malczx7r | 19 March 2020 - 13:36:06

We all know how well the locals follow the rules, Helmets< Stopping at Red lights, Drink Driving, My guess is many bars will still open, after all when will the boys in Brown ever enforce anything??

Christy Sweet | 19 March 2020 - 12:31:12

 Cov-19  has a fatality rate 
 many  times that of  influenza, and if the models hold up,  the  20% critical care  factor is going to be a 
  major altering  event in human history . I regret my earlier flippancy toward it. 

Kurt | 18 March 2020 - 20:11:07

Captain Jack, the Phuket Government has officially no clue how many massage shops there are on Phuket, they only 'know' the registered one's, not the many illegal who monthly pay for no disturbance being 'illegal'. Nothing new in town, we all know about it. Officialdom just manoeuvre around it. It is really a job, this double bookkeeping.

John Paul Jones | 18 March 2020 - 19:41:06

Can restaurants remain open? Bangkok Post said yes but local say no

Fascinated | 18 March 2020 - 18:51:49

I've just been for a walk (sans mask) around Kamala. Small bars which would have maybe 10-15 customers closed but the buses are racing down the main road from all over the island to fill Fantasy for the evening, allow these people to mingle and germinate then be scattered to the four winds at the end of the night. Money talks, what a farce.

Pascale | 18 March 2020 - 16:04:13

Most bars cater to a few guests only this time. Closing down open air bars isn't helping to fight the virus.I feel sorry for them.

coolroo | 18 March 2020 - 15:27:46

I want to know how these poor people are going to pay there’s rents and look after there families is the government going to step in and help them? The Chinese have just cured 36,117 of there people it very obvious that they had a cure all along because they invented this disgusting virus so they need to be held accountable for this

Foot | 18 March 2020 - 14:58:41

Economies and countries are being destroyed all for the sake of an inflammatory news story.  But, shutting down every event is just plain stupid.  
Honestly, why the panic?

Foot | 18 March 2020 - 14:57:18

There have been, essentially, NO DEATHS from CORVID-19 in people under 50, as of March 16. Yes, you can get sick for a few days as with a normal cold.  But, CORVID-19 is not a threat to most of the world.  All efforts should be directed to the +50 year olds.  Old folks, such as me, need to be careful, as with any virus.  

Kurt | 18 March 2020 - 12:31:23

Tourists from mentioned countries must have a health insurance of at least us$ 100,000?  Hahaha. That is the dead blow concerning tourism from these countries. Have a good tourism dream, Thailand ( Phuket) !

CaptainJack69 | 18 March 2020 - 11:33:54

"Entertainment venues including bars to close", "All sports venues, cinemas and massages shops must remain closed", "about 300 venues to be closed"? Nothing vague about that. There's more than 300 massage shops alone.

CaptainJack69 | 18 March 2020 - 11:31:17

Bigger venues yes. If Lumpini Boxing Stadium hadn't still been open after all self-respecting sports events had been cancelled then Thailands' recent infection  rate would have been more than halved. But it makes no sense to close everything.

Fascinated | 18 March 2020 - 10:28:47

B100k fine or a year in prison but killer taxi drivers roam free!

Fascinated | 18 March 2020 - 10:27:30

'Yet again we make an announcement but have not thought things through and cannot give specific answer' would have been a far clearer statement.  I thought the decree from Bangkok was establishments with over 50 patrons, not ALL bars? They really haven't got a clue. I'm pretty sure the Gov is not an expert in Imm matters either. Stand by for 'mis-understandings'.

Kurt | 18 March 2020 - 10:26:34

Overworked doctors abroad have no time and resources to check 'healthy' people on Coronavirus and issue a health certificate as Thailand wish. Not worth the paper written on, as person already can be infected but not show it. Or become infected during the travel time to Thailand after the issue of health paper.

Foot | 18 March 2020 - 08:57:00

Just dumb for all the CORVID 19 panic.  This is no more dangerous than the common flu.  
Let's destroy the world.

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