Current Thailand Culture Minister and former Pattaya Mayor (and brother to the current Mayor) Ittipol Khunpluem, spoke to the Associated Press this afternoon at Government House in Bangkok about the re-opening of malls and loosening of restrictions Sunday due to Covid-19, as well as touching base on what Phase Three re-openings could look like.
Mr. Ittipol stated that the reason malls would close at 8:00 PM currently is to allow time for staff to clean, follow new hygiene measures, restock and then go and eat or run errands themselves to be able to get home before the new National Curfew hours, which will change Sunday from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM and last until 4:00 AM daily.
The change in curfew hours is also being done due to the number of new businesses allowed to re-open this weekend. You can read more about what is reopening here.
Mr. Ittipol said that the current period of relaxing restrictions is based on phases and the evaluation of how things are proceeding overall in each phase. The phase the country is entering this weekend is Phase Two and is expected to last two weeks. Mr. Ittipol said that if the number of Covid-19 Coronavirus cases do not increase drastically in the country and that businesses allowed to open are seen following the safety and hygiene standards set then Phase Three would likely begin on or around June 1st.
Mr. Ittipol said Phase Three planning will be done over the next several weeks, is highly likely to include entertainment and bars, pubs and cinemas and he is involved in the process. Mr. Ittipol was the Pattaya Mayor for many years and his brother, Sonthaya Khunpluem, is the current Pattaya Mayor. Both have ample experience with the nightlife and entertainment industry and will be bringing their ideas and expertise to the table in partnership with the Thai Government.
Mr. Ittipol also spoke on massage, which falls directly into his role as a culture minister in terms of Thai traditional massage. He was asked by a member of the associated press why massage shops were not included in Phase Two of the easing of restrictions this weekend and responded by stating that various prominent members of the Thai Massage industry and associations gave the feedback that if they were only able to give foot massages, which was one of the lowest income earners for a Massage therapist and shop, the majority of businesses said they would choose not to open. Therefore, they have chosen, along with the government and the Culture Ministry, to wait until a future phase, likely Phase three, to open massage shops with more services available.
Mr. Ittipol said the reopening of entertainment and nightlife style venues would likely be case by case and would be further looked at over the next fourteen days. Several meetings have been held by prominent nightlife business owners in Pattaya to give ideas for how they could safely reopen.