It’s not the first time Anutin’s comments have triggered disbelief and frustration. This time Anutin Charnvirakul has provoked exasperation among nightlife operators.
The Interior Minister (formerly the Health Minister in the last government) has stated that the extended operating hours approved for nightlife venues in certain provinces WILL NOT cover the sale of alcohol. In other words, bars and clubs can stay open to 4am but can’t sell alcohol after 2am.
It remains to be seen whether this is Anutin’s own interpretation of the extension, first proposed by PM Srettha Thavisin to boost tourism and the economy. The government has agreed that nightlife venues in the 4 provinces of Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Chon Buri can remain open until 4am, two hours later than the previous legal closing time of 2am.
However, on Saturday, November 4, while addressing the media after attending a Buddhist festival in Surin, Anutin stated that the new hours would not apply to the sale of alcohol. According to the minister, the government sees a light at the end of the tunnel for the country’s tourism industry, which was decimated by the pandemic, and is introducing measures to further boost the sector and the economy.
Referring to the extension to nightlife hours in popular tourism provinces, Anutin then pointed out that while venues could remain open past 2am, they would not be able to sell alcohol.
“Let them drink tea”, he is quoted as saying.
“Every private sector shall follow the laws, especially, the extension of opening service of entertainment districts to 4am, but it does not mean that selling liquor beyond prescribed legal hours: 2am. However, the customers may still be inside the venues, which is good for products and services other than alcohol.”
Not surprisingly, his comments have generated widespread derision and criticism from nightlife operators, who say there is no point in staying open past 2am if they can’t sell their main product. On social media, many have compared the situation to restaurants being allowed to open but forbidden to sell food, or cinemas being open but unable to screen films.
Tourism operators have also responded to Anutin’s comments, saying that staying open later while trying to explain to tourists that they can’t buy alcohol simply won’t work.
The new hours are expected to take effect from mid-December, in time for the New Year holiday period. It remains to be seen if Anutin’s interpretation of the situation is correct.
SOURCE: The Phuket Express