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Pattaya bars push to reopen, officially, and extend closing times to 3am

Tim Newton

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Pattaya officials and stakeholders have been meeting to discuss the dropping of curfews and an official reopening of bars and the city’s vibrant nightlife. Kunlachart Kunlachai, the superintendent of Chon Buri Police, chaired the meeting.

Bars around Thailand, particularly in tourist magnet areas, have been forced to convert to ‘restaurants’ in order to reopen and serve alcohol. Conversions have been perfunctory, at best, but the owners have been keen to kickstart their battered businesses and have been forced to register under Thailand’s new Safety and Health Authority (SHA) guidelines before lifting up the shutters.

From May 1, restaurants, and ‘restaurants’ serving alcohol have been permitted to open for an official additional hour, to midnight, but now Pattaya’s bar owners are insisting that it’s time to drop the bureaucratic paper chase and cat ’n mouse game with police, and just reopen up again, as bars.

The meeting was held last Friday night in the lead up to the reopening of Walking Street over the weekend after police again closed down thru-traffic along the coastal nightlife strip between 7pm and 6am each day. Regarding the closing times, representatives from the local bars asked to re-instate the 3am closing time. There were also discussions about installing more CCTV cameras, additional street lights, road repairs, and keeping records of employee and guard identification.

But the meeting was told that, despite the relaxing of the official curfew, by one hour, for restaurants to serve alcohol, the ban on bars remains at this time. Both the CCSA and Chon Buri governor would have to be involved with removing the current ban in the province.

Some 30% of Walking Street’s businesses reopened over the weekend.

Since May 1, fully vaccinated travellers to Thailand don’t have to undergo any pre-travel or on-arrival testing, a situation that has already shown a boost in both applications for the revised Thailand Pass and actual arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Pattaya officials and business stakeholders say they are looking forward to a constant return to better business conditions throughout 2022.

The CCSA meets every 2 weeks to review the country’s restrictions and changes to business conditions under the emergency decree. Thailand’s emergency decree, imposed by the government to quickly respond to the Covid situation, is set to end on May 31 but may be extended another 2 months, as it has been since April 2020.

 

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    Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand. As founder of The Thaiger in 2016, Tim is the current English Content Manager for the company, based in their Bangkok HQ.

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