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They’re Pissed in Pattaya, and It’s Not From Booze

Alcohol sales return to restaurants in Bangkok, 3 provinces Monday, but not Sin City. Angry business leaders demand to know why

The Sea Zone restaurant on Pattaya's now moribund Walking Street, taken during happier times. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
The Sea Zone restaurant on Pattaya's now moribund Walking Street, taken during happier times. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Restaurants in Bangkok and three provinces will be able to resume alcohol sales starting Monday, but Pattaya – where coronavirus cases have fallen to under 50 a day will remain dry.

Incensed business leaders asking “why?”.

Boonanan Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, insisted Saturday that Pattaya should be designated the same “blue” zone as Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga. After all, Pattaya and Chonburi’s Covid-19 numbers are better than Bangkok.

“We should be allowed to sell alcohol in restaurants too. Business operators have prepared and are ready more than other provinces, we have been closed for almost seven months now and the majority of business venues affected report little to no financial aid for the closures that were no fault of their own.” Boonanan said.

Chonburi on Saturday reported 382 new infections with only 48 of those in Banglamung District, which includes Pattaya. On Friday, those numbers were 375 and 41, respectively.

Boonanan stressed that most of the few dozen cases were in factories and other districts far from Pattaya and are not part of the ‘Pattaya Move On’ development scheme.

Boonanan said that Pattaya has been preparing for this day for a long time and all safety precautions are in place. Pattaya is one of the top destinations in Thailand for Thai tourists and from around the world, and is a major income earner for the country. “We should be given that consideration” he said.

“By not allowing us to sell alcohol as of Nov. 1, we are losing our golden opportunity to get back on our feet and will lose the confidence of tourists who are planning to come here to spend their holidays” he said.

Following the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s green light for alcohol sales in the four “blue” tourism zones, Bangkok’s governor late Saturday gave his blessing – although only for 1,320 Safety and Health Administration-certified restaurants and only until 9 p.m., even though the 11 p.m. curfew ends Sunday.

Phuket, Samui, Krabi, and Phang-nga have been given permission to sell alcohol at restaurants although the rules vary widely by area. Samui, for instance, has a special “Vaccine Green Zones program” that requires individual certification of venues. The island even held its first full moon party in a year-and-a-half last week without much fanfare, according to videos shared widely on TikTok and posts on social media.

Phuket has for some time allowed all restaurants – not just SHA-certified venues – to sell booze and has loosely enforced the ban against bars and pubs reopening. Koh Samui and Phangna also allow alcohol sales, with the Full Moon Party resuming this month and Samui selling in “Vaccine Green Zones” which carry basically the same certification as SHA.