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Pattaya hoteliers complain about alleged “quarantine kickbacks”

Jack Burton

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Pattaya hoteliers complain about alleged “quarantine kickbacks” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Returnees face mandatory state quarantine - National News Bureau of Thailand
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Hoteliers in Pattaya have made an official complaint about a group of people, claiming to be officials who can ensure their properties will be chosen as quarantine centres, are demanding kickbacks of up to 40%. They are urging the government to look into the issue, but officials have been quick to deny any involvement by legitimate authorities.

Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said yesterday that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into the allegations. He has promised to take tough action against anyone “taking advantage of people and business operators during this difficult time.”

The assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration also said yesterday that the centre has never sent anyone to coordinate or demand “change” for turning a place into a state quarantine facility.

On Friday Manager Online reported that a “number of people” have been approaching hotel operators in the resort town, offering to ensure their properties are chosen for state quarantine if they pay them up to 40% of what they receive from the government.

The government will pay participating hotels 1,000 baht per person per day for hosting people during their mandatory 14 day quarantine periods. Around 80,000 Thai nationals who have returned from abroad have been placed in quarantine facilities nationwide as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19, some of them hotels..

State agencies choose quarantine sites based on a set of criteria that include hotel licences, a capacity of more than 200 non-carpeted rooms and separate air conditioners for each room. There are several hotels that meet the criteria in Pattaya, where about 10,000 rooms have already been used for the purpose. Since all hotels have been temporarily closed by government order, operators are eager to make any kind of deal that could earn them some money.

But the acting president of the Chon Buri chapter of the Tourism Council of Thailand says a number of hoteliers in Pattaya are reluctant to pursue the deal.

“Although they will be paid 1,000 baht per person per day for 14 days, costs of meals are included, not to mention staff and utility costs. Besides, accepting the deal will disqualify their employees from social security benefits.”

He was referring to compensation their employees would receive from the Social Security Fund, which would end if they are re-employed, even for 14 days. The chapter sent a list of 20 hotels willing to turn their facilities into state quarantine centres, but they have not been inspected by authorities.

“Importantly, a group of people claiming to come from unidentified state agencies have approached us, saying they could make our hotels state quarantine places and we would get 1,000 baht per person per day. The catch? We’ll have to pay them an ‘operation fee’ of 40%.”

The chairman of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association confirmed the kickback demand at rates between 30% and 40%.

“Even if a hotel does not meet the criteria, these people promised they could coordinate to make it happen. So it’s possible this is teamwork.”

A PBTA adviser confirmed several operators of large and mid-sized hotels had been approached but most had turned down the offer as they viewed it was not worth it to reopen their hotels.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

1 Comment

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    Terry Rasmussen

    June 3, 2020 at 7:33 am

    I love to go walking up around the Big Budda circuit and Royal Cliffs, but one thing gets me these are lovely settings but for heavens sake how about some dam TOILETS every so often or dont the people here go.😉

    I noticed down the beach road from Sands Cafe to Jomtien TOILETs are half way down BUT are closed due to Corona Virus ; So the Virus just shuts down our outlet systems ???? 😗.

    Common fellows dont sit in your office with the toilet 20 foot away, very convienent for you.

    This is not convienent for thousands of people who use the parks and walkways.

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Economy

Thai nightlife grapples with “new normal”

Jack Burton

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Thai nightlife grapples with “new normal” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: People.com

Thailand’s nightlife scene is grappling with a ‘new normal’ as changes upon its recent reopening see facemasks joining the normal bikini wear in red-light districts across the Kingdom.

After being forced to close for more than 3 months in order to stop the spread of Covid-19,bars, karaoke venues and massage parlours are in the latest category of businesses allowed to reopen under new conditions, now that Thailand has gone more than a month without any community transmission of the virus.

The reopening means a return to work for hundreds of thousands of people in the nightlife industry who have struggled to survive. “Bee,” a 27 year old dancer, who goes by her stage name at the XXX Lounge in the Patpong district, said:

“I lost all my income. I’m glad that I can come back to work in a job that I’m good at. I’m ok with the mask because it’s one of the precautions.”

All customers must have their temperature taken before entering, and must give a name and telephone number or register with the Thai Chana app. Inside, everybody must sit at least one metre apart, and 2 metres from the stage. But one British expatriate questioned the need:

“You can take a BTS train in the morning with 200 people on a packed train but then you come into a bar and still have to sit 2 metres apart.”

The government has staggered the reopening of public places over several weeks with schools, colleges and universities officially resuming yesterday.

Despite a low death toll (58 out of 3,173 infections- a relatively low number even within the region), Thailand’s economy is expected to sink further than any other in Southeast Asia, with the number of foreign tourists expected to drop 80% or more this year.

At the Dream Boy club in Bangkok’s Patpong Soi 1, bare-chested men with face shields tried to entice the few passersby off the street, but many businesses remain shut and those who have opened are only seeing a few customers.

“There are bars all over Bangkok that have been open for 10 to 15 years and now they are closed and they are not coming back.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand sets new guidelines to govern “medical tourism”

Jack Burton

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Thailand sets new guidelines to govern “medical tourism” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Medical News

Thailand’s medical community is rolling out a set of guidelines for medical tourism as the country prepares to open its borders to international visitors. According to the director-general of the Department of Health Service Support, yesterday’s first meeting of the medical hub committee resulted in 3 decisions.

The first outcome from the meeting set a new policy pertaining to quarantine requirements for Thais and foreigners arriving from abroad for medical treatment. Visitors will be required to show proof that they were tested for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in the country, and are required to complete a 14 day quarantine. He added that those intending to travel to Thailand for medical procedures will be required to undergo 3 Covid-19 screenings while here – before, during, and after the course of the treatment.

Thai patients arriving from abroad will have the option of quarantining at a state hospital, where the cost of their stay will be partially covered by state health insurance, or at an alternative hospital, which must be booked in advance and paid for by the patients themselves. Foreign patients, however, will have to book quarantine arrangements in advance, as state quarantine is reserved only for Thai citizens.

The second decision, he added, was the endorsement of the slogan “Beyond Healthcare, Trust Thailand,” which is part of the government’s push to establish Thailand as the world’s healthcare capital.

Lastly, was the move to promote the production of locally made medical equipment, including Covid-19 test kits, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and treatment equipment.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today

Jack Burton

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Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today | The Thaiger

Today is the official reopening of Phuket’s famous (or infamous) “Soi Bangla” nightlife district, but only about 20% of venues say they’re reopening during this early stage. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced yesterday that all night entertainment venues may reopen but must strictly adhere to health guidelines set out to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the CCSA, says night entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and beer gardens will be allowed to open, but only until midnight. Social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and customers must use the Thai Chana app to check in and out.

The Patong Entertainment Business Association president says only about 20% of the 324 registered members are expected to reopen initially, but he expects more to reopen soon. Among the 22 rules announced last week- to be presented to the CCSA for approval- were that all staff must wear face masks and face shields, but performers may wear face shields only. No bottles are to be served, and all drinks are to be served in glasses. No pool table games (including snooker and billiards) and no dart games are to be allowed.

The number of guests in each venue is to be restricted to cater for social distancing, with at least 2 metres between tables, or partitions must be installed to ensure patrons are seated at least one metre away from each other.

Undercutting the main reason people visit popular venues, the draft rules also call for groups to be limited to 5 people, and for guests to be prohibited from dancing and singing, gathering, shouting, or “wandering around the premises”.

“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway. If the full list of 22 rules for pubs, bars and entertainment venues is to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible. But we can follow some of the rules, such as social distancing, wearing masks and checking temperatures.”

Even Patong’s mayor told The Phuket News that she is yet to receive a copy of all the rules to be enforced.

“The next thing to do is follow up with the CCSA about the rules. This is very important for the entertainment industry in Patong. I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses in Patong, because the rules announced by CCSA are the general rules for many places. But some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here. We have to apply the right rules and optimise them for businesses in Patong.”

The PEBA president dismissed a few entertainment zones being singled out in other countries as “hotbeds for starting a second wave” of Covid-19 infections.

“I do not care what some people claim is the risk of being in a bar. 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, not only at bars and pubs.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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