The National Security Council (NSC) has indicated that discussions will take place next week over relaxing Covid curbs on additional activities such as entertainment venues, bars, pubs, and karaoke places. The prime minister will then make a decision before December 1 whether the relaxation will be implemented.
According to National Security Council chief Gen. Supoj Malaniyom there may be a possibility that the Dec 1 date for alcohol sales from pubs and entertainment is reintroduced, after being alluded to in a previous statement from the PM.
He stated that further assessment is required before entertainment venues, pubs, bars, and karaoke places can be allowed to open. He also claimed that the government was concerned for the businesses and the prime minister had been calling for the plights of all groups of businesses to be addressed.
Entertainment and hospitality businesses throughout the kingdom have been particular affected by government regulation regarding the COVID pandemic. Many businesses have struggled with constant lockdowns and the inability to sell alcohol, which according to many hospitality businesses either forms a large basis of their sales or prevents people from dining out as it becomes unattractive to patrons to be barred alcohol with their meal.
Gen. Supoj referred to requests from a group representing pubs, bars and musicians asking for the government to speed up the reopening of entertainment venues. Although entrepreneurs representing the group had asserted they were ready to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures, the group was told that the situation did not favour a reopening of the venues on December 1. The plans and proposals submitted by the representatives will be presented to the prime minister.
Businesses in the resort town on Hua Hin have been concerned that their viability is being challenged whilst businesses in Bangkok have been free to sell alcohol with meals. In Pattaya, multiple groups of prominent bar and nightlife industry owners and operators put even further pressure on CCSA, government, to reverse the closure decision by presented signed petitions to the local government. Whilst in Chiangmai, Thanit Chumsaeng, President of the Chiang Mai Restaurant and Entertainment Association, stated that restaurant operators in Chiang Mai wanted to run their businesses while being able to sell alcoholic beverages for customers for dine-in.
The ongoing tug of war between hospitality business owners and the government is also being set against the background of a reopened Thailand since November 1st. However so far Thailand has not exactly been flooded with tourists, as difficulties with the so called Thailand Pass has created a barrier to ease of entry, with other destinations offering better incentives to entry. The businesses are betting on the upcoming high season to claw back some of the substantial losses incurred so far.
Time will tell how responsive the government can be in terms of finding a solution that balances the needs preventing a further outbreak of COVID against tourism and hospitality businesses that have taken the brunt of the economic losses so far.
The NSC secretary-general said the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration will be evaluating the situation once more next week and will present its findings to the prime minister for consideration before December 1. Gen. Supoj added that the number of countries and territories whose nationals will be allowed to enter Thailand without quarantine will be re-evaluated on December 1, but a full lifting of restrictions in all provinces was not yet at hand.