“I advise that year-end celebration events for the New Year be delayed for COVID-19 safety,” Dr Thanit told The Phuket News this morning (Dec 22).
Currently no public ‘Countdown’ events usually held in Phuket for the New Year, such as the Patong Countdown held on Patong Beach each year or the ‘Phuket Countdown’ held at Saphan Hin, near Phuket town, have been announced.
However, only last week the Wandee Woonciew, who as wife of the current governor, Narong Woonciew, serves as President of the Thai Red Cross chapter in Phuket, confirmed that the annual Red Cross Fair in Phuket would go ahead at Saphan Hin Park from Dec 26 to Jan 6.
Each year the fair attracts thousands of visitors to enjoy the food stalls, children’s rides and take part in the charity lucky prizes that raise funds for the Phuket chapter of the Red Cross.
Dr Thanit’s call for organisers to delay their year-end parties follows growing momentum among Phuket residents for Patong Municipality to postpone the annual Patong Countdown event, which each year draws thousands of visitors to enjoy the live performances by local stars.
Leading Patong businessman Preechawude ‘Prab’ Keesin yesterday (Dec 21) posted online a call to postpone Patong Countdown 2021.
“The safety of the country must come first. No Patong Countdown 2021 event due to cooperation in public health during this situation,” he posted.
“It’s better to prevent the risk of COVID-19. If not, it would be bad if the situation can’t be fixed in time.
“Also people do not panic but be aware. Believe me, New Year celebration events do not have to be held at only the one time. We can celebrate it later. As long as we are alive, anything [like this] is not a big deal,” he said.
Patong Municipality has yet to officially announce whether or not the Patong Countdown event will go ahead, but crowds have been gathering at the beach to enjoy live concerts by Thai performers, such as Palaphol Pholkongseng performing at the Rim Lay Seafood festival held on Patong Beach on Dec 11.
Dr Thanit this morning said that private events can go ahead, but must follow COVID-19 protection protocols – in line with the announcement by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn earlier announced today,
“The year-end celebrations in Bangkok will depend on the private sector’s decision. If organisers insist on going forward, they have to comply with regulations from the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration [CCSA].
"Some provinces are being alerted against mass gatherings and may not want to see people from other provinces come in for celebrations anymore, which is yet another dilemma," Mr Yuthasak said.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri has not been available for comment about any TAT events planned for the New Year. Staff at her office have also declined to comment.
Only last week the TAT promoted a mass three-day New Year Countdown event to be held in Sukothai. The TAT has yet to confirm whether that event is still going ahead.