The group, led by Phromphiriya Thammaupat, included staff, singers and musicians from entertainment venues, pubs, bars all across Phuket.
The formal request, received in person by Phuket Vice Governors Vikrom Jakthee and Piyapong Choowong, read, “Please consider measures to help and assist employees of service and entertainment establishments, pubs, bars, in Phuket province that are affected by the absolute closure of service and entertainment places, pubs, bars.
“Please consider relaxing the order to close entertainment venues, pubs and bars so the venues can open at regular hours in order to have uniform employment in all positions as it was before, by keeping them under the measures to control the spread of COVID-19 as the Phuket Provincial Public Health Office has set for service and entertainment facility operators to strictly follow the order.”
The request urged that the move to allow entertainment workers to return to employment received “mercy” from the Phuket Governor.
“Today we have come to ask that the governor have a direct remedy for our group, because in the past we have not received direct assistance. Now we cannot see the light of the future, when we will return to work. Now we can’t take it anymore and don’t know how to continue with our lives,” Mr Phromphiriya said.
Mr Phromphiriya noted that nightlife workers were often viewed as social stigma.
“Actually people blame us as a risk group. In fact, the term ‘risk group’ is not how we see ourselves, but the government says we are at risk. We are people who work honestly for our food,” he said.
The government relief schemes, including the ‘We Win’ (Rao Chana) scheme and support for those registered under Section 33 of the social security Act, helped only some people, and even then were not enough to sustain a person, Mr Phromphiriya said.
“As for measures for borrowing long-term low-interest loans under the government’s policy through various banks, when night workers go to contact the agency [to take out a loan], they do not accept us because from the past until now our income is zero,” he added.
Singer and cafe owner Usama Puenin asked for even part-remedial measures to allow entertainment venues to open with restrictions.
“There is an issue now that restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol. I came to inquire about that now,” she said.
“We can’t do our jobs while vendors selling alcohol are allowed to open in the yellow areas? Did you forget that most hotels have restaurants and lobbies where background music is provided safely?” Ms Usama said.
“We can protect ourselves already at an individual level and not let customers come up. I think we should be allowed to open up some space for us to be able to do something.
As a singer-songwriter, I have been out of work for over a year and have not received any assistance at all. When it comes to [the government providing] assistance, it may be helping broadly, but honestly we sometimes don’t get it.
“We were the first to be closed and now we still can’t work. Why, when now we have the chance to open? Why not let us open just a little bit? It’s okay to play alone or even as a duo. That way we can register [to receive government assistance] and we can get some compensation,” she said.