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Phuket Opinion: Punishing tourists for wanting a drink

Phuket Opinion: Punishing tourists for wanting a drink

PHUKET: Phuket officials this week shared online a series of images with messages trying to explain why the ban on venues serving alcohol and having alcohol consumed on the premises are in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the series of posts online amounted to a confession that the actual problem is the behaviour associated with high states of drunkenness, not the actual consumption of alcohol itself. Apparently health officials do not know the difference.

opiniontourismalcoholCOVID-19crime
By The Phuket News

Sunday 22 August 2021, 09:00AM


The posts were shared on the ‘Phuket Info Center’ Facebook page, which is branded as the “Phuket Sandbox Official Phuket Information Center”, on Tuesday (Aug 17). The images and messages were originally posted by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, known by its Thai initials SorSorSor, operated under the Ministry of Public Health.

The SorSorSor is also well known as the home of the Thai Anti-Alcohol campaign. At least their agenda is clear. National health officials could at least be as honest. To be clear, the mandate to close all bars and other entertainment venues throughout the country originally came from the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in Bangkok after the cluster outbreak at night venues in the Ekkamai and Thong Lor areas in the capital. To that end there is supposed to be nothing that Phuket provincial officials can do about it.

That said, Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong last Saturday in explaining the COVID-prevention measures being extended – again, this time until the end of the month – did admit, “Even though the Communicable Disease Committee discussed the possibility of lifting the ban of alcohol consumption in restaurants, we did not agree to lift the measure.” So there is some wiggle room for local officials to handle the ban as they see fit.

Vice Governor Piyapong, one of the few Phuket provincial officials outstanding for making himself available for clarifying the many and oblique COVID rules being enforced across the island, did make it clear that the ban on restaurants in Phuket from having any alcohol consumed on premises specifically included restaurants at hotels. That means any tourists wanting to come to Phuket, or Thailand for that matter, are being forced to endure at least a two-week ban on enjoying a drink outside of their hotel room while on holiday. So say the rules. They cannot even enjoy a single glass of wine with their dinner at a restaurant while watching the sun set over the Andaman Sea, as tourism promotion campaigns are at pains to highlight.

If national officials want to ban alcohol outright and make Thailand a ‘dry’ country, they should step up and do that – and then see what happens to their tourism industry. But they haven’t got the testicular fortitude for that because they know of the consequences.

Phuket Academy of Performing Arts

As always, it is the law-abiding citizen that is being punished. The reality is that there are many venues across Phuket are serving alcohol. Whether or not they are being punished for it depends on the “flexibility” of local law enforcement.

Dragging tourists into this mess feels like nothing more than a Burmese tiger trap, especially while officials are threatening foreigners caught breaking the COVID prevention measures with deportation and even a possible ban on re-entering the country. We can’t wait until the Russians get here and find out what rules are currently in effect.

The COVID-prevention measures for restaurants and other venues of social gathering have been clearly laid out since last year. Groups of no more than four people at one sitting, with no less than two metres of space between groups, and no less than one metre personal protective space between each individual. No communal vessels for serving beverages are allowed and touch contact surfaces are to be sanitised regularly, as often as appropriately needed.

If these are the rules that are being broken, then these are the charges that should be levied against the perpetrators. Drinkers who adhere to the now decades-old motto “Drink responsibly” are not criminals, and should not be treated as such.

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Boysie | 31 August 2021 - 11:02:48

These are not rules based on facts - No one in hailand can prove that any of the masures that has been taken in the came of Cocid19 has anything to do with any virus 

No one (world-wide) has scientifically proved (1) - that covid19 exists (2) - that it si the result of SARS-COV2 (3) - the it makes people sick because (4) covid-19 has never been isolated (which has been standard practice. 

Christy Sweet | 23 August 2021 - 01:30:56

What is a Burmese tiger trap ? 

Taswegian | 22 August 2021 - 13:08:34

One thing is for sure, If we are ever allowed to leave Australia and go to Phuket, lelecuneo can be relied on to tell me where I can get a drink!

Kurt | 22 August 2021 - 12:50:54

...No tourist empathy of Phuket Officialdom, which is stupid, as Phuket life floats on tourism. It is Thai culture to ignore/undermine Government orders for sake making money, despite paying tea money to RTP. Phuket Officialdom should only implement orders what has carrying capacity among population. Other wise it is lost of time, money, face, and more important  no effect. Than next flip-flopping

Kurt | 22 August 2021 - 12:12:51

What attract foreign tourists who visit Phuket, they not come for 'culture' is all banned now,. All the paperwork, tests, getting COE on a embassy, (a day travel sometimes) expensive flights, upon arrival Phuket tested 3x ( pay).  Pay scamming rates in SHA hotels. Find themselves here in a 'must' do this and that, and can not do order crazy 'straitjacket'. They not come. No...

lelecuneo | 22 August 2021 - 11:28:57

incompetence at their best...and the first outbreak in phuket started at Caffe Del Mar in kamala . guess they forgot to mention in the article here for some reason

lelecuneo | 22 August 2021 - 11:27:43

the simply push Sandbox guests to go to local restaurant wheer alcohol is freely served.... i have been drinking in 5 different places in the last 5 days i have gone for dinner... even my thai friend who own a place told me the local police told him is fine if he serve..how muh did he pay i'm not sure but hey this is the reality...so the most stupid ban ever and those official are out of touch...

Malc-thai | 22 August 2021 - 11:03:37

Why don't they open bars for 'fully vaccinated only? Take bangla Road for example block both ends off with security checks and entrance only to those fully vaccinate including staff.. 

ematt | 22 August 2021 - 10:42:04

Wow someone sounds cranky. “Punished”? C’mon….

phkt-2016 | 22 August 2021 - 10:07:33

Excellent article, highlighting the absurdity of this ban. This is surely one reason why sandbox bookings in September are down to 40.000 from 170.000 . 

JohnC | 22 August 2021 - 09:34:07

I doubt many tourists will want to come and play in the kitty-litter box once this is shared clearly with the international community. Phuket was never a place for tea-totalers, it was and still is a party island; nightlife, drinking, dancing, chasing girls, sun, sand and surf. If you can't have fun why come here??

maverick | 22 August 2021 - 09:28:59

Russians drink at home anyway they don’t go to bars. If the authorities were able to allow open air bars and restaurants, and Hotels  to serve alcohol where risk of large gatherings and parties is minimal, from Night Clubs and Bar Centres, where large groups do gather late at night , then life would be tolerable. We all know who pays the tea money, and they don’t want to be left out.

 

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