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Hotel and bar staff protest on Bangla Road in Phuket after viral video incites crackdown

Disgruntled staff at a Phuket hotel that was used for late-night parties staged a protest on Phuket’s Bangla Road pedestrian street, after their hotel was ‘evicted’ for violating Thai laws on the sale of alcohol under current Covid-19 restrictions.

The hotel had been operating as a de facto nightlife spot, supposedly away from the hustle and bustle of Bangla Road, for months.

Police shut down the hotel after a celebrity lawyer posted a video on Facebook showing a late-night party at the site during Songkran, including alcohol sales to tourists after 11 p.m., the official cut-off time under the series current Covid restrictions.

Angry and out of work, hotel staff marched on Bangla Road Walking Street to protest against the legal whistleblower and the subsequent crackdown. Lawyer, Sittha Beerbangkird shared the video from the bar on her Facebook page. It has already attracted over 350,000 views.

According to Sittha, local residents have long complained to him and local Patong police about the noise coming from the Patong Bay Hill Resort, saying it often opens past curfew hours. He claimed residents had asked for his help in exposing the hotel on social media because local authorities still hadn’t done anything about it, despite numerous reports and even public contempt for attendees’ violations on social media. social.

The lawyer visited the Patong Bay Hill Resort at 2 a.m. and posted a video showing crowds of celebrating tourists. In her post, Sittha alleged that the hotel had been working overtime and violating Covid-19 restrictions for years. He said that to his knowledge, the bar didn’t even have a license.

He also claimed that it was impossible for anyone in authority to know about the existence of the bar and speculated that there might be a bribe under the table. His video quickly went viral, causing the hotel’s operations to temporarily shut down.

During the pandemic, technically still a national emergency in Thailand, the CCSA allows bars in yellow and blue zones, which “convert” into restaurants, and receive full SHA+ approval to open, to serve alcohol until at 11 p.m. After this time, the sale of alcohol is illegal.

However, this venue was caught fully functioning as a nightlife venue – with loud music, booze and (mostly foreign) patrons – well past the cut-off time.

In the video, the lawyer said it was 2 a.m. but the bars were still open. He pointed out that the noise from the bar had annoyed residents living nearby, prompting them to seek his help and report the problem because authorities would have ignored him.

After her video went viral, bars and nightlife at Patong Bay Hill Resort were ordered to close temporarily. In response, more than 50 bar workers, who lost their jobs, took to Bangla Walking Street to protest.

They displayed various signs and banners complaining to the lawyer, with messages like…

“We are hungry, and it’s for the food, not for the reputation on social networks”

“We don’t welcome anyone who wants a spotlight”

“Can you pay my debt? »

“Mind your own business!”

The management and owners of the Patong Bay Hill resort include a number of high profile Patong businessmen.

The protesters added that the people of Patong understood their own situation as they were born and raised. They said that Patong was a tourist destination with no rubber plantation or palm grove, so they had to do what they did for a living.

They added that no one had cared for them since the pandemic and residents had to survive on their own.

Some Thai netizens responded to the post saying they had spotted bars near them doing the same thing. Others warned the lawyer to beware as there could be influential people involved. Many netizens said they understand the staff situation, but everyone should follow the rules.

They also noted that while Phuket can open bars, apparently with few restrictions, other provinces should be allowed to do the same.