The president of the Eastern Spa and Wellness Association, Mr. Chairat Rattanopos, spoke with The Pattaya News over the past weekend, urging to open force closed venues in the fitness, massage, spa, and health industry in the Eastern provinces.
Chairat stated to Pattaya News reporters that the industry had been closed in Rayong, Chonburi, Trat, and Chanthaburi due to being highly controlled zones for nearly a month now after a Covid-19 breakout primarily from tightly packed illegal gambling establishments. Chairat said the industry has already been devastated by the lack of foreign tourists and many former massage shops, especially in Pattaya, have gone out of business permanently.
Chairat said that the industry has been monitoring timelines released from the Department of Public Health on a daily basis and there has been no sign that massage shops, spas, or gyms are responsible for any clusters or even overall spread of the virus. Chairat pointed out that many provinces and areas such as Hua Hin and Bangkok have already allowed the industry to reopen.
Chairat also stated that the protective measures for Covid-19 at the spa and fitness-related venues are amongst the toughest of any establishment and that he believes the industry can open safely for customers as soon as possible. Chairat said he was aware that due to the highly controlled status of the Eastern provinces this was making decisions more difficult and time-consuming for communicable disease committees as they had to partner with the central government but showed hope that things were improving after weekend announcements. The Thai government has repeatedly said they plan to review current restrictions and measures which would include the highly-controlled zones on the last day of this month, January 31st.
Chairat told reporters that most of the workers in the massage and fitness industry are informal and although the government will be providing 3,500 baht for the next two months to those affected the registration has not yet begun and workers are unlikely to get paid anytime soon. He stressed that getting staff back to work as soon as possible was an urgent need and also supported measures being proposed by the Public Health Ministry to waive license fees and other items for massage shops to help them out during the difficult period currently.
Finally, Chairat stated that there was nothing better, in his opinion, for people to improve their immune systems and health naturally than to get back to gyms and fitness-related establishments, pointing out that most people with serious complications from Covid-19 reportedly had health-related issues such as obesity.
Cases in the Eastern provinces continue to plummet, with only cases in the very low single digits traced to previous cases found over the last week.