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25% at Pattaya’s Tree Town Bar Area Tests Positive for Covid-19

A few of the alleged
A few of the alleged "restaurants" at Pattaya's Covid-19 cesspool, Tree Town Market.

A quarter of employees and customers screened for Covid-19 at Pattaya’s Tree Town Market tested positive on the first day, confirming it as the raging source of the city’s soaring number of coronavirus cases.

Banglamung public health officers Netiwat Piromrat said Jan. 3 that testing on the second night of required testing for all employees and customers found 10% of all subjects tested positive for the coronavirus, lower than the first night’s 25% but still a shockingly high figure.

Pattaya has seen more than 700 new Covid-19 cases in the past three days.

Tree Town, the epicenter of Pattaya’s law-bending nightlife industry over the past nine months, on paper is a group of “restaurants”. And while there are indeed many food booths that validly hold restaurant licenses, there are also a dozen straight-up beer bars and the Area 39 live-music nightclub that are making a mockery of the “restaurant” label.

Area 39 has long queues of people waiting to get in every night with free-flowing liquor and a busy dance floor during a time when nightclubs supposedly are closed and dancing prohibited. The beer bars surrounding Tree Town have no kitchens.

Packed-in tables, few masks and lots of booze and shouting make for a ripe petri dish for Covid-19 yet, only now, are Pattaya police and bureaucrats professing surprise that the only thing growing in Tree Town, besides money, is disease.

Banglamung Deputy District Chief Pornchai Sungeid and Pattaya deputy police chief Pol. Lt. Col. Kerkrit Saiwanna joined Netiwat at the Tree Town Covid-19 testing point Jan. 3.

They expressed concern about the number of customers socializing at the Soi Buakhao night market and the lack of social distancing and said venues were warned to clean up their act.

Kerkrit also warned operators to adhere to legal opening and closing times.

The original version of this story appears in the Pattaya Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.