Restaurant diiners patrons drinking alcohol booze beer

Be careful what you wish for Bangkok restaurant owners.

Originally expecting alcohol to be off restaurant menus until December – based on comments earlier this month from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – dining venue operators rejoiced when the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration relented to industry pressure an lifted the ban in Bangkok and three other provinces starting Nov. 1.

Then bumptious Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang added his two baht.

Famously contrarian to the dictates of the central government, Aswin Kwanmuang again perverted Prayut’s wishes by placing a 9 p.m. cutoff on booze and limiting sales to only restaurants with a Public Health Ministry Safety and Health Administration certification.

Only 1,320 Bangkok restaurants have that seal.

While Bangkok venues are still in better shape than those in Pattaya, the artificial limits infuriated business owners who only have to look south at Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga provinces, where any Somchai with a stove can sell a cold one. On Koh Samui, any restaurant can sell booze inside the island’s “green zone”.

Of course, this is Thailand where the law says one thing and the police obligated to enforce it say otherwise.

Aswin’s limits are as much artifice as artificial. They were not imposed to protect the public from Covid-19 but to protect the former Royal Thai Police general’s old buddies on the force.

“You want to sell alcohol after 9 p.m.? No problem. Pay me.”

“You don’t have an SHA seal? No problem. Pay me.”

Just as the criminals in uniform have been allowing bars to reopen and restaurants to sell booze in coffee mugs for weeks, they’ll never stand in the way of late-night sales at any establishment as long as they’re getting their cut.

The continued closure of bars, clubs and soapy massage parlors has hurt the boys in brown’s dark-money stream and, with those venues not expected to reopen until at least December, Aswin threw his buddies another bone.

The communicable disease control committee advised restaurants that want to serve alcohol legally to improve their venues and get the SHA certification, which requires all employees to be fully vaccinated and undergo costly regular coronavirus testing.

Outside of restaurants, city hall attached its own amendments to the CCSA’s rules for other businesses as well:

  • Cinemas can open with audience capacity limited to 75% of seats;
  • Convenience stores, fresh markets and flea markets can open normally;
  • Libraries and all kinds of museums can open, but food and drinks are not allowed and activities must not be organized;
  • Beauty clinics, beauty salons, nail salons and tattoo shops can open via appointment . Customers at tattoo shops must be fully vaccinated or have RT-PCR or ATK results within 72 hours;
  • Nurseries, child development centres and special-needs child centers (The Bangkok Health Department will consider the opening of facilities based on suitability);
  • Care centers for the elderly (Both service recipients and officials must be fully vaccinated and random checks must be conducted every week);
  • Spas and Thai massage shops can open via appointment. Customers at tattoo shops must be fully vaccinated or have negative RT-PCR or ATK results within the previous 72 hours;
  • Public parks, sports grounds, stadiums, swimming pools and water activities can resume operation;
  • Gyms and fitness clubs must strictly abide by disease-control measures. For spas, customers must be fully vaccinated or have negative RT-PCR or ATK results within the previous 72 hours);
  • Stadiums can stage events but all spectators must be fully vaccinated or have negative RT-PCR or ATK results within the previous 72 hours);
  • Hotels, exhibition halls and convention centres can open, but alcohol consumption is prohibited. There must be break times for air ventilation and meals must be served to guests separately;
  • Shopping malls and community malls can open normally but activities with large crowds are discouraged;
  • Playhouses and theatres require permission from the BMA Health Department;
  • Boxing and martial arts schools and dance schools require permission from the BMA Health Department;
  • Weight-control services, amulet centres, zoos and animal shows can open;
  • Children’s playgrounds require permission from district offices in their areas;
  • Water parks and amusement parks can open.

Still closed for the foreseeable future are entertainment venues, bars, karaoke clubs, soapy massage parlors, game arcades, internet shops, cockfighting rings and horse racing tracks.

Activities with more than 1,000 people are not allowed, unless permission has been obtained from the Health Department.