Tourist pub in Thailand turns into free kitchen for jobless due to coronavirus

by Reuters
Friday, 27 March 2020 10:58 GMT

A bar is seem almost empty at Walking Street as few tourists visit the city after the coronavirus outbreak in Pattaya, Thailand March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

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Differ Night Pub has opened its doors to residents of seaside resort town of Pattaya in need as joblessness soars

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By Juarawee Kittisilpa and Vorasit Satienlerk

PATTAYA, Thailand, March 27 (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has turned a pub in Thailand's famed seaside resort town of Pattaya into a community kitchen serving free food for workers who have lost jobs when the global tourism industry ground to a halt.

Surajai Attanart, owner of the Differ Night Pub, and his workers feed up to 1,000 residents who have fallen on hard times due to a pandemic that has infected 500,000 worldwide, killed more than 24,000 and prompted many countries to close borders.

Thailand's measures to suppress the spread of the highly infectious respiratory disease have left many without jobs as many businesses, mainly in entertainment and spas, were closed down. Like many others, Surajai's business is hurting, but he wanted to contribute to the community.

"On our part, we're giving out free food to people who have borne the brunt of the situation. At least, (this way), they can save around 40 to 50 baht (about $1.50) for a meal per day, adding a lifeline for them," Surajai, 43, told Reuters.

About a thousand lunch boxes are packed daily in the pub's kitchen, where dozens of the remaining workers gather to prepare ready-to-eat meals.

Hundreds of residents lined up for free food, where they were told to stand an arm's length apart as part of social distancing efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"I heard that they were giving out free food here, so I quickly came," said Patchanee Kamsiang, who became jobless after the hotel where she worked shut down.

The Thai government on Sunday closed department stores, malls, dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues and other public places for several weeks in major cities. Virus infections climbed to over 1,000 cases by Thursday.

(Writing by Kay Johnson Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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