A letter was issued to the prime minister today by Governor of Chiang Mai Charoenrit Sanguansat urging him to reconsider the latest order for restaurants to only allow for take away or delivery, citing the improved situation regarding the virus as well as the dire situation facing the 80,000 people who work in Chiang Mai’s restaurant and bar industry.
“Each province has a different situation and it would be really good for the prime minister to consider this factor as Chiang Mai’s situation gets under control. Reopening, with restrictions and responsibility, is a means for us to take a breath amidst this current crisis,” said Lanna Commins, managing partner of Huan Soontaree and board member of the Chiang Mai Restaurant and Bar Association.
“We don’t want to sit around and wait for charity from the government, we want to rely on ourselves, we just want to be given the chance to do so,” she added.
The Restaurants and Bar Associations Chiang Mai has 424 registered members, running the gamut from hole-in-the-wall fast food to night clubs, five star restaurants and everything in between. A representative of every type of business sits on the board, which consists of 50 restaurateurs.
“What has been very helpful is that during this entire pandemic, we have been regularly invited in to discuss regulations and implementations with the governor and the public health director,” added Lanna, whose Northern Thai restaurant has been open for 22 years, but like so many others shut down again for the second time since the start of the pandemic just after Songkran. There is currently no date for its reopening.
“Before each and every order they invite us in to discuss and get feedback,” continued Lanna, who says that she and her fellow board members have been very impressed with the governor and the public health office’s willingness to listen. “Whether it is realistic or not, they have allowed us to negotiate and reach a common ground. The association has been very actively involved in decision making and has had a positive impact on policies.”
Lanna went on to explain that before the third wave hit the association was making plans for the future, in hopes of reviving the entire industry post-pandemic. “We were already planning food festivals and all sorts of activities,” she said. “Our first festival was slated to be this month. But now, we are actually going on a day by day basis, just getting through. Every plan we have is now cancelled as we don’t even know who of us will survive this and be around when it is over. I know people who have been taking loans after loans, each wave a new loan.”
Huan Soontaree is a 300 seat restaurant which, in its heyday, had over 30 staff.
“If the prime minister considers our request then this will help many businesses which have not been able to adjust to serving delivery as their cuisine may not be suitable as well as to those who were too small to continue,” added Lanna. “It’s not just owners who will be able to breathe, but think of all the staff and people they support.