Feature: A look at the brewery at the heart of the current Covid-19 cluster in Si Racha and chat with the owner

Si Racha, Thailand-

The Pattaya News, along with associated local Thai media in Si Racha, visited the Rong Beer 90 brewery and bar earlier this week and spoke with one of the owners, who was not positive for Covid-19, about the cluster that had emerged and the media coverage the venue had over the past two weeks.

The Pattaya News has covered in depth the Covid-19 situation in Chonburi including a cluster of employees, customers, and musicians who worked and visited the Rong Beer 90 venue on Christmas and New Year’s week. This particular cluster has now, according to the Chonburi Governor, led to at least 60 positive Covid-19 cases, both directly and indirectly through close contacts of those who visited the brewery.

The brewery had the cluster break out after a person who lives in Rayong visited the venue on Christmas week. This person, according to the Chonburi Public Health Department, attended an illegal gambling establishment also attended by a Covid-19 positive person who had recently visited the Samut Sakhon fish market that is the epicenter of the recent cluster of infections in Thailand. This patient, whose name was not disclosed for their privacy, reportedly started the super spreader event inadvertently.

At least 18 employees, 1 musician, and 21 customers had been confirmed positive by the Chonburi Public Health Department earlier this week with more waiting for results.

  Amat Worasri Sawachot, the owner of the brewery, spoke with the local Thai press earlier this week about the situation. 

Amat stated that the brewery was a new venue and had only opened on December 9th of last year. The venue had been quite popular with local Thai residents leading up to the Covid-19 related event at the end of the month, according to Amat.

Amat told the Thai media that the shop was utilizing all precautions and was temperature checking and using proper tracking of customers such as the Thai Chana platform. Chonburi Public Health Department officials agreed with this, telling The Pattaya News that part of the reason the track and trace process had been successful so far in regards to the cluster at the brewery was the venue keeping proper records of customers and “doing the right thing.” It is believed the person who was the super spreader did not have a fever and was asymptomatic, thus not triggering the temperature checks.

Amat stated that he had seen many hostile comments online leveraged towards the venue but wanted to ask the public for sympathy, saying that it wasn’t their intention to cause a problem and it wasn’t their fault.

The Chonburi Public Health Department, so far, appears to agree with the venue stating that CCTV evidence and the Thai Chana platform show that the venue was following Covid-19 precautions and standards but unfortunately a super spreader event still took place.

Amat said that once a first case had been identified as being at their venue around December 31st, in which they had a staff New Year party, (Si Racha was legally allowed to be open in terms of entertainment venues, only Banglamung was closed at this point-Editor) he asked for the entire staff to be tested. Although he himself was negative the problem became apparent when multiple other staff members tested positive. After this point, the business was closed and the Chonburi Public Health Department was called in to handle the situation.

Amat said the brewery has had multiple complete disinfecting since the incident and equipment that could have been infected has been removed. He also said he and his staff are cooperating with officials from the Chonburi Public Health Department in every way possible.

Amat also said that with the shop currently closed he is continuing to take care of his staff, including those who tested positive for Covid-19. Most of them are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms according to the Chonburi Public Health Department. Amat said he is providing the temporarily unemployed staff with food and funds during this difficult time.

Amat concluded the interview with the local Thai press by saying that he wants the public to understand this incident could happen anywhere and not to lay blame but rather understand that many of his staff were patients and victims of the disease and he hoped the public would have sympathy to the difficult situation. Amat plans to re-open the venue when his staff is healthy and the provincial Governor declares the Covid-19 situation resolved in the province, removing restrictions that currently order entertainment venues closed. Amat hopes the public will support him and his staff in the future.

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