Those COVID-19 rules are there for a reason, and Thailand is not messing around. Eighty-nine foreign tourists have been arrested at the 360 Bar on Koh Phangan for having a massive party in violation of COVID-19 restrictions. Both guests and organizers are now facing charges of violating an emergency decree, which has been in place since March to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Police learned about the party when they saw tickets being sold online (not the most subtle way to host an illegal party), and party-goers now face a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a potential fine of up to $1,330. The organizers face additional charges of serving alcohol in an area of Thailand where alcohol in restaurants is currently banned.
Police Col. Panya Nirattimanon told CNN, “They are stranded tourists who can’t leave Thailand due to COVID. They may think it is OK to gather in large groups and I think they may want to relax and have some fun.”
All of those arrested have been swabbed for COVID-19, but so far none have tested positive. Thailand has largely avoided massive outbreaks of the virus thanks to its strict quarantine rule, which mandates a 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals. Its strict enforcement of social distancing and capacity rules — exemplified by these arrests — has also contributed to the country’s low infection numbers.