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New Pattaya Councilman Rips Alcohol Ban, Overzealous Covid-19 Controls

Boonanan Pattanasin, also president of the PBTA, says needlessly strict regulations undermining Pattaya's tourism efforts.

The Pattaya Music Festival only allowed 150 people into the seating area where they were harassed by security to remain seated and not dance or sit close to friends.
The Pattaya Music Festival only allowed 150 people into the seating area where they were harassed by security to remain seated and not dance or sit close to friends.

Overzealous disease-control measures are undermining Pattaya’s efforts to rebuild tourism, one of the city’s new city councilmen says.

Boonanan Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, said there is virtually no point to organizing festivals and events like the Pattaya Music Festival if alcohol cannot be sold in the city and crowd sizes are unnecessarily limited.

Attendance at the weekend’s music festival and hotel bookings in Pattaya both disappointed and can be blamed directly on overly strict disease-control measures.

Only 150 people were allowed into the gated stage area at each of the three music festival venues. City officials claimed this was to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 by limiting crowd size, spacing attendees a meter apart and prohibiting standing or dancing.

But Boonanan – appointed to the council this week – pointed out what everyone else saw and scoffed at: Right outside the fences people packed in with no attempt at social distancing or crowd control.

The truly laughable thing, Boonanan said, was that current health regulations allow for crowds of up to 1,000 people.

While alcohol normally is prohibited at music festivals held on public land, Boonanan said the fact that restaurants and vendors near the festival sites are banned from selling alcohol also depressed interest in the concerts.

Even though Chonburi Province has once denied a PBTA appeal of the alcohol ban, Boonanan said the organization will try again, making its case in stronger terms.

If the association’s pleas are ignored, he said, Pattaya should just save the money and not bother with staging festivals. Because few people are going to come.

The PBTA said it has met with Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome about the music festival crowd size and he admitted that it was held under outdated rules, Boonanan said.

The PBTA said it wants next weekend’s festival to allow 1,000 people into the seating area and better organize the crowd outside.

This story first appeared in the Pattaya Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.