Public health officials have expressed concern that “pub-like restaurants“ are fuelling the current spike in COVID-19 cases in Thailand.
Officials have said many COVID-19 clusters that were discovered after the New Year holiday could be traced to gatherings at venues which were serving alcohol.
Due to the ongoing closure of bars and pubs, many operators have sought the authorisation to open as a restaurant, which a venue can legally do providing they have a food license.
However, rather than trading as a restaurant they continue to operate like a pub, with many not adhering to the COVID Free Setting measures ordered by the Ministry of Public Health.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Thursday (Jan 6) said that when people drink, they are less cautious and drop their guard against COVID-19.
Mr Anutin warned that strict legal action will be taken against the owners of any venue that has been found not to follow the required COVID-19 protocols.
Those who break the rules will be in violation of the Communicable Disease Act as well as the Emergency Decree.
He added that the raising of Thailand’s COVID-19 alert level on Thursday would likely lead to the closure of eateries that are similar to pubs and bars.
In addition, Mr Anutin said that pubs, bars and karaoke shops should not be reopened any time soon and hinted that it could be at least another month before opening such venues is even up for consideration.
Previously the government had ordered all entertainment venues to remain closed until Jan 15.
However, this is now expected to be extended following a rise in COVID-19 cases after the New Year holidays.