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Only 20% of Phuket Bars to Reopen Today

Patong business chief already lobbying for relaxation of CCSA final health rules before anyone has even seen them

Patong Phuket Thailand Bangla Road Bars Nightlife

Only 20 percent of bars in Phuket’s main tourist area will reopen today amid confusion over disease-control restrictions and a lack of tourists, said the head of the Patong Entertainment Business Association

PEBA President Weerawit Kreuasombat said maybe 65 of Patrong’s 324 pubs, bars, karaoke venues, beer halls and beer gardens will take the plunge right away.

He noted that bars will open regardless of whether they think they can enforce the controversial list of of disease-control measures suggested to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The CCSA’s spokesman, Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, mentioned some of the rules that will be required – such as those covering table distancing and face mask use – but not many of the more-extreme ideas that bar operators nationwide laughed off as unenforceable.

As of Tuesday, neither Weerawit, Phuket Public Health Office chief Dr. Thanit Sermkaew nor even Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup had seen the official list of what rules the government plans to enforce.

“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway,” Weerawit said in an interview with The Phuket News. ‘If the full list … are to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible.”

As his counterparts in Bangkok and Pattaya are undoubtedly already doing, Weerawit has already begun lobbying for the restrictions to be loosened. He met with Chalermluck Tuesday and asked her to relax the restrictions even though she hasn’t seen them yet.

And today he will meet in Bangkok with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism to request the government extend the announce midnight closing time until 4 a.m. as well as provide free water and electricity, low-interest loans and assistance with obtaining rent relief from landlords.

For her part, Patong’s mayor seemed open to immediate concessions.

“I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses because … some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here,” Chalermluck told the local newspaper.

Weerawit said he expects to be told by Bangkok officials that rules for bars have to be tight given that other countries that have reopened bars all have suffered new outbreaks. But that’s a spurious argument, he contends.

“If the government is genuinely concerned about the risk of Covid-19 spreading, then it is not just about bars, pubs and entertainment venues. The risk of COVID-19 spreading applies anywhere where people are around,” he said.