Reports are being received of almost nightly raids at Pattaya bars with multiple arrests made in relation to the 9 PM curfew on serving alcohol.
A raid mounted by Chonburi and Pattaya police on January 12th led to the arrest of 12 bar owners for staying open after 9 p.m. with many Thai and foreign customers found to be drinking, the Thai Rath newspaper has reported.
About 50 customers were arrested when police raided a Pattaya karaoke bar late on Tuesday night. Police said the men and women were either dancing or drinking alcohol at around 11.30pm.
Other arrests have included a 24 year old woman, who manages a bar where the lights had been turned off to be discrete, but the bar was still serving customers. A 43 year old manager of a bar on Walking Street was also arrested after police raided his bar, which was open late and packed with customers.
Pattaya police have commented that there will be an investigation every day at 9:30pm, urging the disease control measures to be strictly followed to avoid tough prosecution.
The raids follow measures announced by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) last week. Bars across Thailand have been ordered to remain closed, except in “blue zones,” which includes Pattaya, but also Hua Hin and Cha-Am where alcohol service and consumption at restaurants or bars deemed to be ‘temporary restaurants’, are allowed until 9pm
Pattaya police are focusing on the less complicated aspects of the regulations, making sure restaurants aren’t selling alcohol after 9 PM and leaving the required SHA certification and testing measures to be checked by the Public Health Department.
Some venues unsuccessfully argued that they could remain open and allow customers to drink the beverages they bought legally before 9 PM. They say that the law only says booze can’t be served, not consumed, after 9 PM and that legal closing times remain until midnight, although police see that differently.
Meanwhile police in Hua Hin appear to be taking a lower key approach without reports of mass arrests or a highly visible presence on the streets. In Cha-Am, one restaurant owner told a reporter that after 9 PM, alcohol service at the premises just reverts to the use of metal containers; a strategy widely adopted before the new 9 PM rule came into operation.
When it comes to serving alcohol, where there’s a will, there’s a way; albeit against the law and despite the risks involved.