Open restaurants before the country reopens

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Protesters against PM: Open restaurants before the country reopens

Anti-government protesters move from politics to economic cost of Covid restrictions

Protesters display the three-fingered salute as they set up a flea market near Government House for businesses and people affected by the latest Covid restrictions in Bangkok. (Photo Reuters)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was attacked by protesters on Friday for banning dining out, creating further economic hardship for thousands of people.

The crowd that gathered outside the government palace on Friday included familiar faces from previous political rallies. But this time, they decided to focus on more practical matters.

The month-long eating ban – announced at midnight last Saturday without warning – went into effect Monday in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The result has been severe distress for restaurateurs and food stall operators who have already struggled to attract customers since the start of the third wave of Covid in April.

Protest leader Panupong Jadnok demanded that the prime minister reopen grocery stores to extend a lifeline to operators before considering reopening the country.

General Prayut last month announced a plan to fully reopen the country to foreign tourism by mid-October, along with a resumption of all other regular economic activities.

General Prayut was not present to hear the demands of the demonstrators. He left Government House shortly before 4 p.m. to attend a funeral, a spokesperson said.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, another protest leader who faces 20 royal libel charges related to his activities over the past year, said protesters would devote their efforts this month to attempts to overthrow of the Prime Minister.

The rally was organized by the Ratsadon group and the Thammasat University and Protest United Front. It all started with a walk along Phitsanulok Road from the Uruphong intersection to Government House, the walkers not being put off by a nighttime downpour.

A flea market was set up at the rally site where vendors were able to sell food and other goods to earn much-needed income. The intention was to send a message to the Prime Minister that people should be allowed to resume their activities.

General Prayut was seen leaving Government House at 3:50 p.m. following a visit by EU Ambassador to Thailand Pirkka Tapoila, who is completing his term in Thailand.

The Prime Minister is said to have attended a chanting ceremony at Wat Sommanas Vihara before returning to his residence.

About 1,000 riot police cordoned off all roads leading to Government House and deployed razor wire, but the rally went off without incident.

At one location, a group of participants hung figurines from an overpass to represent people who had committed suicide after losing their jobs and closing their businesses due to the lockdown measures.


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