Covid: Thai police arrest 89 foreigners partying during state of emergency

Police raided a party at a bar on a popular resort island in southern Thailand and arrested 89 foreigners for violating coronavirus regulations, officials said Wednesday.

The Tuesday night raid on the Three Sixty Bar on Koh Phangan also netted 22 Thais, including one identified as the bar’s owner and another who sold drinks there, said police Col. Suparerk Pankosol, superintendent of the provincial immigration office.

He said the gathering was illegal under a national state of emergency declared last March to combat the coronavirus.

Those arrested were from more than 10 countries, including the U.S., Britain, Switzerland and Denmark, Suparerk said. Photos of the raid distributed by police showed a dark, crowded room with casually dressed partygoers, almost all wearing face masks.

Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province is a popular destination for young backpacking travelers and is known especially for its all-night Full Moon beach parties. However, Thailand has barred virtually all tourists from entering the country since last April.

There have been 29 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Surat Thani out of a national total of 15,465. However, 11 of the 29 cases have been found in the last month as Thailand experienced a resurgence of the disease.

The penalty for violating the state of emergency is up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,330). The bar owner and worker could also be charged with violating the Communicable Disease Act, punishable by a one-year prison term and a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,330).

Suparerk said the arrested people were being held at the Koh Phangan police station, where investigators were preparing documents to charge them.

He said police had tracked the party plans on social media, where the bar was promoting the event to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Entry tickets were 100 baht ($3.30), with food and drink extra.

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