As more businesses and venues open today as part of the fourth phase of easing lockdown restrictions in Thailand, there remains one industry left in the dark about its future.
The entertainment industry, consisting of bars, pubs, and karaoke venues, has remained shuttered with little indication of when they might open again.
It has now been more than 75 days since the entertainment industry closed its doors as part of the initial lockdown orders following the covid-19 outbreak.
The Thai Government’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had considered reopening entertainment venues as part of the fourth stage of easing lockdown restrictions.
However, they eventually decided that it was “too risky” and omitted the industry from the latest announcement.
Now, the President of the Alcohol Beverage Association, Thanakorn Kuptakit, has sent a formal request to the government asking for a trial reopening of the 10,000 entertainment venues across Thailand.
Mr. Kuptajit has informed the government that the businesses need to open to survive. With staff wages and rent payments due, he predicts a bleak future if permission is not granted to reopen soon. He said:
“About half of the country’s 10,000 entertainment will shut permanently if they remain locked down for much longer since they are making zero revenue but still paying rent and wages.”
The alcohol sector is worth upwards of 370 billion baht per year in Thailand. However, the effects of the coronavirus lockdown have witnessed a 40 percent year-on-year decrease in 2020 so far.
Mr. Kuptakit suggested that if entertainment venues can’t reopen soon, the government should allow alternate ways for related businesses to generate income. He continued:
“Online shopping would help reduce traffic at various pubs and bars and could still be traced. However, under the current law, posting pictures and basic product information of [alcoholic products] is considered as promoting alcohol and, therefore, illegal. So, we want the state to be lenient about the situation.”
Recently, the laws regarding advertising alcohol online have been thrust into the spotlight as one Facebook user posted a summons and a 50,000 baht fine for uploading an alcoholic picture on Facebook.
With no locally transmitted covid-19 cases in Thailand for the past three weeks, the CCSA will come under increasing pressure to allow entertainment businesses to reopen.
Source: The Nation