The following is based on a visit to three newly re-opened Shopping Malls in the Pattaya, Thailand area on Sunday, May 17th, 2020.
This was the first day that malls re-opened as part of the “Phase Two” easing on restrictions and closures that were originally implemented due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus nationwide. You can read more about that here.
The following is a description of what one can expect upon visiting the malls and is current as of press time. It is important to note that as both the malls, vendors and customers adjust and give feedback that things may change. It is expected that there will be some adjustment period with the new rules, just as there was with the rules in the first phase two weeks prior with restaurants.
We posted a live video tour of two of the three malls we visited, Terminal 21 and Central Festival. We also visited Royal Garden but did not post a video tour. Please note that exact procedures may vary mall to mall. Entrances have also been compressed to only a few, so queue times to enter may have increased.
1. To enter Terminal 21 and Central Festival in Pattaya you must scan a QR code with the Line app on your phone. Royal Garden did not require the QR code check in, however every individual shop did. At Central Festival you must also enter a phone number. At Terminal 21 you only check in, but did not need to enter a separate number. The QR code is part of the Thai Cha-na website/Covid19 tracing system.
1a. The Thai Cha-Na is NOT AN APP, it is a website with a QR code. It is a simple QR code that identifies your phone as visiting that location at that time. If a case of Covid-19 is identified at a location you visited during a specific time frame, you get a text message inviting you to a free, confidential Covid-19 test at a nearby medical facility. There is no permanent application installed on your phone.
2. You do not need a passport or id UNLESS you do not have a phone, refuse to use the Line App and QR code scan, forgot your phone, etc. Then you will be required to fill out a manual log with your name and phone number. If you refuse this step you will likely be refused entry to the mall and individual stores.
3. If you do not have a phone, it is old, no line, etc manual logs are available at each mall to sign in, as stated above, but you will need ID.
4. Hand sanitizer and temperature checks are required, not only at the mall but at every individual shop. Additionally, most shops also require you to use the QR code system to check in (and check out) of each individual shop, the same as the mall. When you leave the shop a brief survey of four questions, all hygiene related, will pop up as well as ask how much time you spent in the shop. The survey is technically optional although there have been some reports coming in that certain venues were “requesting” customers give them positive reviews.
5. Many restaurants standards here are stricter than outside right now. Many require one person per table, even families or groups that came in together and partitions between people. Like when restaurants first launched in Phase One this is likely to loosen over time but right now is an inconvenience for many. The number one complaint The Pattaya News has seen on social media today, both in Thai and English, is customers being forced to sit apart from their children, wife, girlfriend, friends, room-mates, etc. This was observed the strictest at Central Festival from our observations. Additionally, many tables have mandatory partitions that will separate even family members, making it difficult to have a conversation. Some restaurants make the partition optional and some allow two people to sit together, but the majority were, at least on opening day, separating nearly every group.
6. Some restaurants have had to majorly change the way they work. No buffets and Shabushi has no rotating food at this time. Some restaurants have chosen not to open at this time and will likely open at a later date when things have eased a bit. Alcohol can not legally be sold in restaurants. (We have got some feedback at The Pattaya News that some people alleged to have seen exceptions, which is possible, but the legal regulations and rule is alcohol is not supposed to be sold at restaurants at this time.)
7. Masks are required, except when eating. The malls had significant signage throughout, as our videos above show, reminding customers about good hygiene measures and social distancing.
8. There are some rest and massage chair areas available, they are socially distanced from other people.
9. Some individual businesses also require a line QR code to enter but not all. Of the three malls we visited, Royal Garden was the most “relaxed” of the three. Mike’s shopping mall remained closed as of Sunday. We did not visit Harbor Mall, Central Marina or Tukcom.
10. Remember, when you leave the mall you will likely be asked to “check out” and complete a survey.
These are the general measures that we experienced, keep in mind that an experience may differ based on location visited and staff present. It’s important to remember that most of the strict measures are Public Health Ministry requirements and not rules from individual companies. The Pattaya News spoke with several staff members of restaurants in Central Festival, who asked not to be named, who stated that they were unhappy about some of the rules, especially one customer per table at most restaurants, and expected angry and upset customers to yell at them when they had no control over the situation and the rules implemented by the mall management.
The Pattaya News notes that these same issues happened, as noted above, when restaurants opened outside of malls but gradually relaxed and loosened slightly, allowing family to sit with each other and, for the most part, without partitions, etc. This is likely to happen over time with malls as well.