PM defends delay lifting nightlife ban

PM defends delay lifting nightlife ban

Tourists walk past a restaurant in Pai district, Mae Hong Soon, on Monday. (Bloomberg photo)
Tourists walk past a restaurant in Pai district, Mae Hong Soon, on Monday. (Bloomberg photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended the decision to postpone the reopening of pubs and entertainment venues from Dec 1 to Jan 15, a move that has disappointed many in the hospitality and entertainment industries as they fret about keeping their businesses alive.

Gen Prayut said public health safety measures would not be ready in time for them to safely reopen on Dec 1.

"We have to listen to what the Public Health Ministry has to say about the matter as well," said the prime minister, who also heads the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) which issued the delay notice.

The premier has warned entertainment businesses not to reopen before they are given permission to do so or they will face swift legal action. Many pubs and bars have already defied the rules and suffered the consequences.

Gen Prayut also ordered organisers nationwide to exercise the utmost precautions and launch health surveillance measures during festivities at Loy Krathong venues on Friday.

He said there has been a steady improvement in tourism after the Nov 1 reopening, with hotel bookings on the rise. He said he has instructed agencies to reduce the time needed to perform immigration and health checks for international arrivals.

Meanwhile, businesses in Nakhon Ratchasima, one of the most bustling cities in the Northeast, have expressed anger at the delayed return of the city's nightlife. Phakin Petpol, manager of Tawan Daeng, an entertainment complex in Muang district, said the company called more than 150 employees back to work after the complex learned that pubs and bars would open their doors again on Dec 1.

"To be told they now have to be on standby for another month or so, it's not a pleasant feeling," the manager said.

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