What effect did the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have on Pattaya?
The short answer is—global travel restrictions and measures introduced by Thailand’s emergency decree to prevent the spread of COVID-19 left Pattaya looking like a ghost town. It’s a period that saw Pattaya starved of its share of the revenue generated by more than ten million annual visitors.
Through periods of April and May 2020, when all national and local government restrictions were in place, people were advised to stay home, wear a mask outside, practice social distancing, obey curfew, and have a reason for traveling into Pattaya City.
You could not: eat at a restaurant, go to a bar, catch a movie, work out at the gym, attend school, have a haircut, exercise in a public park, or shop for anything other than essentials.
All non-essential services in Pattaya—including entertainment and nightlife venues, swimming pools, water parks, and popular tourist attractions and parks were closed.
All Pattaya beaches were closed, you could not drink alcohol in public, and you were not even allowed to buy alcohol—anywhere!
It must be said, though—that if the restrictions and closures merely inconvenienced you, you might have considered yourself lucky.
The Devastating Effect of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Pattaya
It was in early February 2020 that Pattaya first felt the effect of the coronavirus—after China’s lockdown and travel bans of late January took effect. In Pattaya, the result was a mass withdrawal of Chinese tour groups—leaving many attractions and tour and boat operators deprived of their primary income source—Chinese tour groups.
Messages of sympathy and “get well soon” were directed to the Chinese, hoping they would soon recover and return, so Pattaya could also recover—and return to normal.
From January 13, when Thailand reported its first case of COVID-19 (the first reported case outside of China), to March 11, when the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, about 60 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Thailand.
On March 18, all entertainment and nightlife venues in Pattaya and those in several other provinces were closed.
On March 26, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand over 900—the government declared a nationwide state of emergency and put the emergency decree into effect.
What was initially a temporary 2-week closure of nightlife and entertainment venues became long-term—lasting until July 1, with increasingly stringent measures which saw the closure of most everything except essential services.
People in Pattaya Lost Their Jobs
The lucky ones were furloughed with a percentage of their salary. Some got free accommodation plus living expenses. Others were sent home with nothing more than the promise of their jobs back—if and when the business would open again.
The government launched a financial aid program called “No One Left Behind” to help the jobless who were not entitled to social security payments. Unfortunately, the majority also did not qualify for the No One Left Behind program.
They were left behind …….
Who Helped the Needy and Homeless People in Pattaya?
What happened next is a little surprising. Rather than bemoan their desperate plight, businesses closed by the emergency decree, including bars and restaurants, handed out free food to the growing numbers of needy and homeless people in Pattaya.
Of the numerous businesses and individuals, both Thai and foreign—giving free food to the needy—I’ve highlighted the efforts of 4 foreign-owned businesses in Pattaya.
What was quite touching was the devotion to the cause, the planning, dedication, and the efforts taken to make sure food and supplies got to those that needed them most.
No one got left behind, really.
Photo credits: Bryan from Night Wish Group, Mark from Hemingway’s restaurant and bar in Jomtien, Tim from the Devonshire restaurant and guest house on Soi Lengkee, Tommy Dee from Fabulous 103 FM.
Fabulous 103 FM
Fabulous 103 FM raised well over a million baht to help feed the needy and homeless in Pattaya.
Besides giving away 2000 bags of food every Friday at Fab 103, donations made to Fabulous 103 were used to buy food and supplies for a further 24 outlets for redistribution to the local needy and homeless.
Night Wish Group
The Night Wish Group owns and operates more than 20 bars in Pattaya. They stood to lose a lot; regardless, they had two free food distribution programs for the needy in Pattaya. Every day on Soi 6, they handed out free food to 1000 people. Also, every day they delivered 200 free meals to the Pong district in East Pattaya.
Night Wish Group also provided additional food packages and supplies by special request in Pong district, including medical supplies, nappies, kitchen rolls, etc. A team of volunteer nurses helped them seek out needy individuals, including 30 elderly and infirm people, see photo above.
Hemingways Pattaya Food Bank Program
Mark from Hemingways, aided by a crowdfunding page started by Paul of Pattaya Central—started the Pattaya Food Bank to distribute food and supplies to the communities where it was most needed.
The Devonshire – Help Pattaya
The Devonshire on Soi Lengkee (Facebook page) was one of the first to start giving free food to the hungry and homeless in Pattaya. They gave out food via food stations on Soi Lengkee and distributed it to the homeless sleeping on the streets and in shop doorways.
The Effect of Covid-19 Coronavirus in Pattaya, January 2021
After six months of slow business since Pattaya bars, nightlife venues, and other non-essential services and businesses were allowed to re-open on July 1, 2020, hopes were high that the Christmas and New Year celebrations would bring some relief.
Alas, due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Pattaya New year countdown was canceled, and all non-essential businesses and services were closed on December 30, 2020.
Regardless of forced lockdowns and closures—global travel restrictions and Thailand’s strict entry rules during the Covid-19 pandemic had already left Pattaya virtually devoid of tourists.
By comparison to pre-coronavirus times in Pattaya, by January 2021, Pattaya had become a ghost town.
Photos of Pattaya During the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic
In contrast to most places in Pattaya during the coronavirus pandemic, Pattaya Beach and the beach promenade came to life at night. It was the new most popular nightlife destination in Pattaya.
The Tahitian Queen gogo bar (photo above) on Pattaya Beach Road, the oldest bar in Pattaya and the first gogo, came close to permanent closure due to a lack of customers.
When 7-Eleven stores on Walking Street (photo above) close, you know it’s not good. And it wasn’t just Walking Street; there were 7-Eleven stores closed throughout Pattaya.
Walking around Pattaya and seeing so many businesses shuttered, a mere handful of people walking on the once-bustling Soi Buakhao and 2nd Road and Walking Street in darkness at night—is an almost eerie experience. It’s Pattaya like you’ve never seen it before.