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Nightspots set on June relaunch

Night entertainment operators have called on the government to allow them to reopen their businesses in ”blue-zone” provinces promoted for tourism from June 1.

This is one of several proposals which will be presented to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House on Monday, said Sa-nga Ruangwatthanakul, president of the association of business operators on Khao San Road.

The proposals were put forward by more than 10 associations of night entertainment and tourism business operators in Bangkok and other provinces, he said.

The proposals are expected to go before a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) which will be held tomorrow, Mr Sa-nga said.

Since the Test & Go entry scheme was cancelled on May 1, businesses on Khao San Road are surging back to life as foreign visitors are returning.

Now was the time to further ease curbs on nightlife as it would give the industry an extra shot in the arm. He reiterated his call for the government to scrap the Thailand Pass registration requirement for foreign travellers and roll out special promotions to draw tourists back.

According to the letter to be handed to the prime minister, the associations said the outbreak of Covid-19 has dealt a serious blow to the tourism industry.

As a result, some have gone out of business because they lacked the resources to swallow heavy losses. The closures had also left many workers unemployed.

Among the proposals is allowing night entertainment venues, pubs, bars and karaoke parlours that have met Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus or Thai Stop Covid 2 Plus standards to reopen in two stages.

In Stage 1, such venues in 12 ”blue-zone” provinces and certain districts which are also designated as blue zones in 16 other provinces would be allowed to reopen from June 1. In Stage 2, permission for reopening would be given to those venues nationwide from July 1.

Another proposal is for provincial governors and various agencies to work with night entertainment operators to ensure compliance with Covid-Free Setting measures and roll out campaigns to encourage people to comply with health safety precautions.

A third idea involves replacing the emergency decree and the Communicable Disease Act with other laws after the current extension of the decree’s enforcement ends on June 1.

The business associations are also calling for the lifting of the ban on alcohol sales between 2pm-5pm, which has been in force for 50 years, and was issued in 1972 by then prime minister Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn.

The ban was thought to be intended to deter state officials from drinking alcohol during their lunch break, and was retained in an announcement issued by the PM’s Office on Jan 6, 2015.

As part of their plan to reinvigorate nightlife in tourist areas, the associations will urge the government to designate special zones in which alcohol can continue to be served from 11pm-4am but with additional public transport laid on to discourage drink-driving.

“Several tourist spots have the potential to be further developed into special zones for night-time leisure activities. They include Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy and Patpong Road in Bangkok, Walking Street in Pattaya, Bangla Road in Phuket, Hat Rin on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani and Nimmana Haeminda Road in Chiang Mai,” Mr Sa-nga said.

The associations have also thrown their support behind moves to downgrade Covid-19 to endemic status ahead of a full reopening of the country. In the letter, the business groups will thank the prime minister for relief measures rolled out to ease the plight of businesses and people affected by the pandemic, and hail the gradual easing of restrictions to rehabilitate the economy, he added.

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