Nightlife business owners demand government ease restrictions

About a dozen bar and pub owners protested on Wednesday in front of parliament house, urging the Thai government to ease restrictions on their businesses.

Chatchai, the owner of the Arttro bar, told Thai Enquirer how difficult it has become to keep his business alive.

“We’re not allowed to stay open officially,” Chatchai says. “But the income loss falls heavily on us owners as we have to bear the employee salaries and monthly rent.”

The group of business owners is asking for restrictions to be eased across the entire industry, including bars, clubs, karaoke joints, and other nightlife venues that are pegged to stay closed until mid-January, 2022.

Chatchai says that since the pandemic began, it’s been a nightmare. He blames the government’s decision to outlaw alcohol sales, a move that effectively forced countless bars, nightclubs, and other establishments that rely on alcohol sales to go out of business.

He added that without the ability to sell alcohol, businesses like his won’t be able to stay afloat.

But the group’s requests have been denied by the cabinet nine separate times since July.

Ekarach Udomamnuay, another entrepreneur who feels he must come out to support his community,  handed in a letter for the tenth time. He hopes the government will finally consider opening pubs and bars again.

“Some people have unstable financial status,” Ekarach told a group of press in front of parliament. “They are daily-wage workers who were affected completely by the situation. They don’t get paid enough to afford to live.”

He explained that the Covid-19 restrictions have affected not just bar staff and bar owners, but all of the people who work in connection to them are also suffering.

He said these restrictions impact cleaners, cooks, musicians, and many other employees who are dependent on restaurants and bars to stay open. The group of business owners also submitted requests to support unemployed musicians who rely on their bars to make a living.

But Ekarach’s main request is that the government allows businesses to finally begin serving alcoholic beverages as they did before the pandemic. However, according to the CCSA’s announcement, entertainment venues will remain closed. The government still views nightlife venues as “high risk” zones.

If the government does not concede and grant their requests, Ekarach says the group may file a lawsuit to claim compensation on their financial losses.

 “It’s time everything goes back to normal, they need to allow for eased restrictions.”

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