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Thailand News Today | Nightlife venues submit a proposal to reopen on June 1

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According to a Bangkok Post report, the proposal is one of several being submitted to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today.

Sa-nga from the association of Khao San Road business operators says the proposals are being put forward by over 10 associations representing nightlife and tourism operators in Bangkok and beyond. It’s understood the proposals are expected to go before the CCSA when it meets tomorrow.

According to Sa-nga, the cancellation of Test & Go has led to a surge in foreign tourism along Khao San Road, and an easing of restrictions on the city’s nightlife is now required. He says doing so will further accelerate economic recovery, adding that the government should also get rid of the Thailand Pass and instead focus on special promotions to attract more foreign tourists.

The proposal going to the PM today highlights the severe financial impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector, with many businesses now shut for good and countless people left unemployed. The proposal suggests that nightlife businesses that meet the standards of SHA Plus or Thai Stop Covid 2 Plus should be allowed to re-open in 2 stages.

In the first stage, entertainment venues in the 12 “blue zone” provinces, as well as some provincial districts that have been designated blue zones, would be allowed to re-open from June 1. They would be followed by all other nightlife venues around the country from July 1.

In addition, business representatives are calling for Thailand’s ban on alcohol sales between the hours of 2 pm and 5 pm to be scrapped. The law has now been in place for 50 years, after being introduced in 1972 by then dear leader Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn. The logic in retaining it is unclear, although it’s thought it was originally introduced to prevent people from consuming alcohol during working hours.


 

Despite a further easing of entry restrictions at the start of the month, with the lifting of PCR testing on arrival, Thailand’s tourism sector is not getting its hopes up, as businesses are concerned about several factors that have left them uncertain about any potential recovery.

Chief among these is the risk of new variants and how the government might respond to that. Businesses say they want a clear plan from the government, to ensure the mistakes of the past 2 years are not repeated. A sea of policy changes and U-turns left tourism operators fighting to stay afloat, with half-hearted re-opening schemes simply not going far enough.

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The country first re-opened with its pilot “sandbox” program in Phuket, which launched in July 2021, before the arrival of the Test & Go scheme in November. According to ศิษฎิวัชร ชีวรัตนพร from the Association of Thai Travel Agents, tourism recovery has been up and down since the launch of the Test & Go scheme.

While acknowledging the recent lifting of PCR testing on arrival as a positive move, he believes Thailand must keep its entry requirements consistent, with a focus on traveller convenience, as well as providing a comprehensive healthcare plan that protects locals from the risk of new variants.

In the event of a new variant emerging, Sisdivachr says a return to strict border controls is not the way to go, as it’s now clear the tourism sector can’t survive such measures.

Meanwhile, the president of the Thai Hotels Association is less than optimistic about the government’s projection of 10 million foreign arrivals this year. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says China’s ongoing travel restrictions make this impossible. adding that although we should get a better result this year than the past 2, the practical outlook for arrivals should be 6 – 8 million.”


 

China’s stubborn pursuit of a zero-Covid status, coupled with tough import restrictions, is harming the Thai economy. So says Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council.

According to a Nation Thailand report, the NESDC says it’s watching China closely after a strict lockdown was enforced in Shanghai and other cities.

“China’s economy expanded by only 4.8% in the first quarter this year, lower than forecasts of over 5%.”

The NESDC goes on to say there are 3 Chinese policies that will have a significant bearing on the global economy, including Thailand’s. The first is the Chinese government’s zero-Covid policy. The agency says if lockdowns of large cities continue, Thailand’s industrial supply chain for electrical appliances and electronics will be affected.

The second policy that will affect Thailand is China’s tight control on agricultural imports, particularly those being brought in by land. After traces of Covid-19 were found on shipments of durian fruit from Thailand, China imposed a temporary suspension of imports of Thai durian. This led to a drop in the price of the fruit. As a result, the NESDC is calling for Thailand’s export standards to be tightened to comply with Chinese demands.

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Finally, the third policy is China’s decision to stockpile raw materials for products such as fertilisers, instead of relying on imports that could be affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine and sanctions imposed by the West. The NESDC says the steps being taken by China to mitigate the effects of US and European sanctions on Russia will also have a negative effect on the Thai economy.


 

Speaking of Russia and Ukraine, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says that his upcoming visit to Washington DC for the US – ASEAN summit on Friday does not mean Thailand will choose sides in the Russia – Ukraine war.

He says the purpose of the summit is to discuss economy, trade and investment in the region. However, Ukraine has requested that Southeast Asian nations suspend dialogue with Russia, so political analysts expect that the summit might pressure PM Prayut to address the war despite his efforts to remain impartial.

Leaders of Southeast Asian countries will convene in Washington, US, from May 12 – 13 for a summit hosted by US President Joe Biden. Political commentators expect that Biden’s intentions are to strengthen the US’ ties with ASEAN countries, both to combat China’s growing influence in the region and to press leaders of all ten ASEAN nations to side with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, PM Prayut says the summit serves a different purpose…

Prayut explained “Regarding my travelling abroad… It is a typical meeting like ASEAN-Japan and ASEAN-China. The ASEAN-US meeting is just another one but it coincided with the war [in Ukraine]… [We] do not choose one side over another. We are going as ASEAN members to discuss the economy, trade, investment and the regional situation, like in the past meetings.

The summit will discuss dozens of topics, and will not focus on one dominant issue.”

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the purpose of PM Prayut’s upcoming visit to Washington is to support the US’s role in Southeast Asia. The ministry said that ASEAN nations hope that the US will play a constructive role in creating peace and stability in relation to the Russia – Ukraine war…

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Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for American and South Pacific Affairs เชษฐพันธ์ มากสัมพันธ์ says “We are trying to use every summit to reaffirm our stance that we respect territorial integrity and sovereignty and support a ceasefire and peaceful negotiation,” said .

Although PM Prayut doesn’t want to “pick a side” in the ongoing conflict, political analysts expect that the summit will pressure him to publicly address the issue…

Lecturer of Political Science Naing Lin from Chiang Mai University says “Thailand is one of the countries that the US is trying to make choose sides, not only on the current Ukraine crisis but also on China,”


 

In the 24-hour period since the last count, the CCSA has continued to record a downtrend in daily covid number, reporting 6,488 new cases today while recoveries are double that, at 12,755 recoveries. There are now 84,957 people in Thailand being treated for Covid-19. 55 coronavirus-related deaths were reported by the CCSA today, raising the pandemic’s death toll in Thailand to 29,143 with 7,445 of those fatalities since the start of this year.

Out of the new cases recorded today, 2 were found in correctional facilities. More than 80,000 inmates at Thailand’s overcrowded prisons and detention centres have tested positive for Covid-19 over the past several months.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has recorded 4.3 million confirmed Covid-19 cases. Out of that number, 2.1 million Infections have been reported since January 1.

In the Thai government’s vaccination drive since February last year, a total of over 134 million doses have been administered. Yesterday, around 8,000 people received their first dose, 25,000 received their second dose, and 49,000 received a third shot.

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