The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will propose to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) next month the setting up of zones, in which pubs and bars would be allowed to operate up to 4am, instead of 2am currently.
The minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said today (Thursday) that the proposed easing of the restriction is not a blanket measure, but to be applied only to pubs and bars in the designated zones, such as Khao San Road in Bangkok, Patong Beach in Phuket, the Walking Street in Pattaya, Ao Nang in Krabi, Khao Lak in Phang-nga, on Koh Samui and in Hua Hin and Chiang Mai.
He said that he had floated his idea with pub and bar operators and advised them to discuss the matter with governors in their respective provinces, adding that his ministry will also help in pushing the idea with the Ministry of Interior.
The minister claimed that many foreign tourists have dinner as late as 10pm and then visit a pub or a bar at around midnight. So, just as they are starting to have fun, it is almost closing time.
He said that most patrons, including Thais who visit pubs abroad, want to spend more time in a pub to enjoy life.
Phiphat also said that he would like to convey a message to those who oppose the idea of extending the licencing hours for night spots that, even if a pub is closed, many patrons want to hang around drinking and some operators have been known to close their premises to avoid police detection, which may jeopardise the safety of the patrons in case of a fire.
He pointed out the necessity of a zoning system, where the entertainment venues can operate without causing a disturbance to people in the neighbourhood.
Phiphat’s idea, which is intended to boost tourism, may face opposition from people who argue that, in reality, most pubs and bars are already operating beyond their permitted hours.
He was forced to shelve his 300-baht tourism fee proposal, to be collected from every arriving tourist, after it was met with strong opposition.