Bangkok could be drinking out again as soon as Sunday under plans announced today by health officials to lift the ban on serving at restaurants.
The COVID-19 task force on Sunday will meet to consider the proposal, which would also allow stadiums to reopen again and weigh new quarantine options for travelers. If it supports the move, it could go into effect immediately or early next week.
After seeing a decline in new COVID-19 cases during the past week, health officials said that they would propose relaxing measures to allow more businesses to reopen, though they did not specifically mention whether bars or similar nightlife establishments would be included.
Bar owners and industry workers have been loudly protesting the blanket ban, which has been in place since the beginning of the year – along with athletic stadiums and cockfighting arenas – amid a second wave of infections.
The committee will also eye more quarantine options for visitors from abroad as Thailand wants to host international events such as the Jet Ski World Cup and Jet Ski Pro Tour this year. A fancy form of quarantine being called “Villa Quarantine” would guests to isolate themselves for just five days in their rooms before being allowed to enjoy hotel facilities such as spas and sports for the remaining nine days.
The proposal drew heat from those who saw some corruption and favoritism in the details.
Sri Panwa Phuket, a resort owned by staunch government supporter Vorasit Issara and partially owned by a government social security agency, was given the rights to pilot the project, and 70 well-healed guests from Bali are set to fly to Phuket on Sunday via a chartered flight, task spokesman Taweesilp Wisanuyothin said yesterday.
People called it out as vintage Thai classism and corruption
“Well, this government [has] proven that it’s one rule for the rich and one for everyone else” Ciaran McNeill wrote in a comment on the news.
“If people are on the same side with the government, they can abandon the rules for hundreds of people to help a few. The health committee is just for show,” Natee Thara wrote.
The resort’s controversy-courting owner Vorasit said people shouldn’t be worried as much about wealthy travelers because they travel and test extensively. Furthermore, as his resort spans 13 hectares of controlled space, officials say the pilot program could work there and be a model for other resorts.
The return of COVID-19 in mid-December peaked at the end of January and has fallen to roughly 150 new cases reported daily in the past week. Health officials today logged 150 new cases and the 83rd fatality – the first involving a health worker.