By Barry Kenyon

Anything and everything about Thailand
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Rapid Covid testing in Pattaya gets off to a slow start

By Barry Kenyon

January 8, 2022

Contrary to expectation, Pattaya and a few other tourist-orientated areas have survived the total ban on the consumption of alcohol in restaurants effective nationally on January 9. The new deadline in Pattaya is 9 pm to replace the current one of 11 pm. However, the military-run Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration is mandating a host of health and safety rules for staff, with one also requiring all customers to show a rapid antigen test taken within the last 72 hours.

There is currently very little evidence of any checks whatsoever in popular tourist areas such as Walking Street, Soi Buakow and Sexy Soi Six. The sole testing booth in Walking Street is a private sector booth offering swab tests with the timed and dated result transferred to your mobile phone for 100 baht. Only two establishments, one a dance hall and the other a music bar, appeared to be showing any interest in whether customers were qualified to enter or not.

Over on Soi Buakhao, which has the busiest nitery scene in town, there is no sign of the promised local authority free testing booth and no evidence of any check on customers in the numerous bars. On our visit, several were crowded and mask-wearing obviously being ignored. It was the same story on Sexy Soi Six where several gogo bars have turned themselves into open-front restaurants. The only evidence of food on display was the occasional pile of peanuts.

However, the game changes on January 9 when booze time ends at 9 pm. The CCSA spokesman hinted at the significance when he said that nightlife would soon be ending much earlier. It is well known internationally that sales of alcoholic beverages pick up as the evening gets later. So the real issue is now whether the police will enforce the 9 pm quasi-curfew on serving booze. Watch this space.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... art-385603

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Barry Kenyon wrote:
Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:36 pm
So the real issue is now whether the police will enforce the 9 pm quasi-curfew on serving booze.
My guess is if the police bother enforcing it at all, other than the occasional raid or if there are truly flagrant violations, it will last about as long as usual - a week or so, if that long.

We'll see.

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For the moment, Pattaya nightlife back on life support

By Barry Kenyon

January 10, 2022

With the Christmas and New Year booze free-for-all firmly behind us, Pattaya is facing up to a sober alcohol prohibition starting at nine o’clock prompt. Health officials, police and even the army have been out and about in the last 48 hours advising imbibing customers and “restaurant” staff to call it a day as the doom clock strikes. No arrests or closures to date.

In true Thai tradition, the latest rules are tinged with ambiguity. The Bangkok governor maintains that drinking alcohol (as well as serving) must stop at nine and suggests that customers could carry home any dregs in a plastic bag for home consumption. Others have maintained that there should be a “drinking up” period lasting, say, half an hour after serving ceases. The jury is still out debating this scary subject.

Bars and clubs are supposed to be firmly closed 24/7, but some have found a way of transforming themselves into eateries, notwithstanding the total absence of kitchenware or even of knives and forks. One enterprising bar on Beach Road can provide you with chicken-rice or even a plate of chips, but customers must wait for 15 minutes whilst a motorbike taxi man brings them from an unknown destination.

The provincial health authority has proclaimed that “restaurants” must specifically test all customers (as well as staff) with an ATK kit to ensure they are virus-free. A Pattaya radio station carries an impassioned exhortation to avoid like the plague any eatery which declines to enforce the rule. In practice, only a tiny number of prestigious dining outlets are cooperating. The rest point out that the whole enterprise is expensive, unpopular and means nothing. One cafe abandoned the idea in haste after two staff who were in charge of testing customers turned out to have Covid-19.

For these reasons, law enforcement is concentrating on the nine o’clock booze-curfew which is relatively easy to police. The more difficult subjects such as checking whether an eatery is well-stocked with ATK self-test kits, or is fully licensed under the complex Safety and Health Authority Plus regulations, are secondary matters. Whether you are a proper restaurant or a bar specializing in peanuts and crisps pales into insignificance compared with the all-important matter of ceasing booze sales at nine in the evening.

Some districts haven’t even bothered to try. Boyztown is in total darkness apart from one bar with customers in short supply to say the least. Most of Walking Street is still barred and bolted with only a small number of businesses open in the middle section of the street. “It’s just not worth opening at all,” says Zac who is currently a doorman at a music club. “A good night out needs to start at nine, not end there.”

There are certainly some busier spots, mainly in Sexy Soi Six and Soi Buakhao, where the fun-seeking, budget-conscious Europeans tend to congregate. But these are prime target areas for police action if alcohol is indeed served past nine o’clock. A bar girl Porn frankly summed up, “I used to make good money after midnight, now I must hope my customer is drunk by nine o’clock.” Then she winks and bets this crackdown will be as short-lived as its historical predecessors. That’s the gamble.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ort-385853

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Pattaya’s Royal Garden is crowded by booster seekers

By Barry Kenyon

January 13, 2022

Hundreds of Thais and foreign nationals are queuing daily at the Royal Garden’s first floor, free vaccination center run under local authority auspices. It’s open daily 11.00-15.00 hours with registration the first step. Ask at the information desk for the procedure.

The center is open for first, second or booster anti-Covid jabs. Booster vaccine is mostly Pfizer. Expect to spend several hours there. After registration you might be vaccinated that day or, more likely, given a future time.


The Jomtien outdoor sports stadium is no longer operating as a vaccination center and the facility has moved to Banglamung hospital. But jabs there are for Thais only according to a nurse in a phone conversation. For those who are registered (or wish to) and have paid around 1,600 baht, Moderna boosters are being given at several private sector hospitals in Chonburi province over the next three months.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ers-386080

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I doubt many holiday makers planning a trip to Thailand would cancel their plans because of this tax, but considering how badly Thailand needs to attract international tourists, to me this seems like a strange time to impose this tax. I wonder who came up with this brilliant idea and who decided this is the right time to levy this kind of tax . . .
__________________________________________

Confusion reigns over new tourist tax in Thailand

By Barry Kenyon

January 13, 2022

Thai government press releases are sometimes clouded by ambiguity. The decision to impose a 300 baht (US$9) on foreign “tourists” from April is no exception. It will be collected by a supplement on pre-arrival air tickets, but presumably people with a Thai-sounding name will be exempted. Or maybe not. Foreign residents and expats are not “tourists” so won’t need to pay. Maybe. Nobody yet knows how travel agents and online ticket sites will be able to distinguish between the various groups.

According to the Thai based tourism and sports ministry, no decision has yet been taken on how “tourists” arriving by sea or land will pay. There is a suggestion that they will download yet another app and use their credit or debit card. The issue is said to be non-urgent because there are few arrivals by water, whilst land borders are still closed to most international travellers and vacationers. However, it has been announced that guest workers from neighboring countries (Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos) will not have to pay.

The new fund – predicted to produce 1.5 billion baht in 2022 if 5 million international visitors actually show up – will be used to improve facilities at tourist sites (repairing temples, building toilets etc) and to provide “insurance for travellers”. However closer inspection reveals that this will be a discretionary, slush pay-out fund to be tapped in case of accidents such as minibus crashes or even murders of foreigners. It absolutely does not replace the need for general health and/or Covid insurance currently required of all foreigners entering the kingdom.

Thai pressure groups from the travel, tourism and hotel organizations are already lobbying the government to delay the imposition of the new tax until 2023. This is to allow tourism to recover before being thumped by a further cash burden. The Thai Hotels Association says that 300 baht may not sound a lot, but has a withering and psychological effect on potential vacationers. But insiders say that the government’s lust for cash revenue is likely to ignore pleas for a further delay. The new tax has already been postponed several times since 2019.

In a separate announcement, the government has indicated that 10 insurance companies will optionally sell to foreigners on arrival extra Covid cover. This is because some current policies bought by foreigners prior to entry do not cover all Covid-related expenses. For example, some do not pay for quarantine if the patient is asymptomatic, others only kick in if the coronavirus sufferer dies. Not to mention those which have a cash cut-off point well below the actual cost, or require the traveller to pay first and try to reclaim from the company afterwards. Further details are awaited with interest.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... and-386075

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Latest Test and Go rules add to health insurance confusion

By Barry Kenyon

January 21, 2022

The latest Test and Go rules, from February 1, leave the health insurance requirement at US$50,000 or just over one and a half million baht. However, the Council for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is reminding applicants that if their particular policy does not meet the full hospital bill in case of Covid infection in Thailand, then the visitor must make up the cash difference.

Experience has shown that some policies failed to pay the full amount of intensive care treatment, or required the claimant to pay the hospital in advance of the insurance company actually refunding the costs. Or finding a loophole. Some other policies failed to kick in because treatment was sought by the patient at an expensive private hospital rather than a public one or even a converted “hospitel”. The CCSA announcement means that the visitor can no longer rely on Thai public funds making up the difference in cases of dispute with the insurer. There is a suggestion that travellers may be able to buy supplementary Covid insurance on arrival, but no detail as yet.

In spite of earlier rumors to the contrary, the latest Test and Go rules will not require general health cover beyond Covid infection. Policies exclusively designed for Covid will continue to be acceptable. The popular Thai General Insurance Association policy, for example, covers anyone up to the age of 99. The age of the applicant is irrelevant, only the country of departure and length of stay dictate the premium. The average cost is around 4,000 baht per month. Full details at http://covid19.tgia.org/ As in all insurance policies, there are some caveats and exclusions.

However, if the foreign applicant requires a visa as well as the Test and Go permission – which is limited to 30 days visa exempt on arrival – he or she may run into additional insurance costs. The Thai embassy in London, for example, details that general health insurance (not Covid specific) of at least US$100,000, or just over three million baht, required for the Special Tourist Visa (STV), the O/A one year visa aimed at retirees and even the O visa if it is based on retirement. But other visas, for example for business or marriage or education or Elite, do not have the additional insurance requirement. Nor does the 60 days repeating “Covid extension” which has been around for two years because the land borders remain closed to most foreigners. It is due for another renewal or cancellation or revision next week.

This discrimination persists when requesting an extension of stay at Thai immigration. Those extending the STV or O/A retirement are required to have ongoing insurance, but the rule does not apply to other visa holders including those with O based on retirement. The vast majority of foreigners do not require any insurance to prolong their stay in Thailand. A little-known and scarcely-used 10 year O/X visa, introduced in 2016 for 14 nationalities, does require ongoing insurance. It has complex application rules and requires a police clearance certificate in the home country.

From April, a tourist tax of 300 baht will be added to all inbound air tickets. Some early reports claimed this would remove the need for any traveller insurance which is complete nonsense. In reality, this slush fund will be used to upgrade temples and tourist sites and occasionally pay out on a discretionary basis when a nasty accident (minibus overturning or pleasure boat sinking) results in negative publicity in the foreign press.

A new wave of 10 year visas (actually 5×2) was announced this week by the Thai government. The idea is to encourage wealthy individuals of one sort and another to make Thailand their home base provided they are property owners and investors or well-heeled digital nomads or retirees with huge pensions way beyond the current 800,000 baht floor. Although some specific bits and pieces are known – holders will need to report their address annually rather than quarterly – much of the detail remains unknown. And that gap includes the insurance requirements, if any.

Whilst health insurance is obviously a “good thing” Thailand’s requirements are messy to say the least. The variables are enormous dependent on the specific visa or permission, whilst there is abundant evidence from social media that individual embassies and Thai immigration offices do not sing even from a remotely similar hymn sheet. Once international tourism seriously lifts off again, insurance confusion will be a major disincentive. Fewer initiatives and more coherence are urgently required.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ion-387037

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by gerefan »

That insurance link doesnt seem to work properly.

No matter which visa you select it only allows you to click on a stay of 30 days, despite saying that your insurance has to cover the entire stay.

TIT.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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gerefan wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 10:03 am
That insurance link doesnt seem to work properly.
Maybe it was down earlier. I just tried it and it worked just fine.

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Post by gerefan »

Still cannot change the length of stay from 30 days.

Did you manage to change it to say 60 or 90 days?

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gerefan wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 4:28 pm
Did you manage to change it to say 60 or 90 days?
I didn't try to do anything. I thought you were saying the link itself wasn't working.

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