A prominent group of massage parlor and spa operators today, August 17th, have filed a lawsuit against the Thai government at the Civil Court in Bangkok, demanding compensation of 200 million baht after their businesses were ordered close and affected by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
The group claims to have received no compensation for the mandated closures that they say have closed their businesses for months with no sign of relief anytime soon or a public plan for a way to allow their livelihoods to continue.
Three Move Forward Party MPs and representatives from the spa and massage parlor owners in maximum control zone areas along with associated lawyers arrived at the court this morning to file a lawsuit against the government as they claimed that they did not receive any compensation and remedies from the government for their tremendously lost earnings. 29 provinces in Thailand are currently under maximum control measures which, amongst other rules, close massage shops, spas, beauty clinics, saunas, and similar venues regardless of what protective health measures the owner puts in place.
The group of owners and lawyers also stated that their venues were not a “super spreader” and never appeared on Covid-19 related timelines or contact tracing reports but were continually closed by the Thai government regardless.
Pitak Yotha, president of the Jarawi Association for the Conservation of Thai Massage, said that the massage operators have been crucially affected by the on-and-off lockdown policy since March of 2020. It was unreasonable to consider spas and massage parlors as high-risk establishments as there were no clusters or even individual infections have been reported in the establishments, Pitak added, pointing out that even small massage shops that barely saw a few customers a day, had less than five staff, and had excellent health measures were ordered closed yet factories with thousands of workers could stay open.
Therefore, the group demanded 200 million baht in compensation as they have not yet received any financial treatment from the government at all, according to their statement.
Sirikanya Tansakun, deputy leader of the Move Forward Party, stated that this case would be the first of its particular kind “class action” civil lawsuit that has ever been filed in Thailand.
She told reporters: “I want this case to be historic and to be the case that forces the government to take responsibility for the citizens’ lives and damages entrepreneurs are suffering from its law.”
“It has been over a year and it is too late to provide any financial remedies to this business sector. We could only rely on the court to determine how much damage has been caused by this government’s failure management of the pandemic.”
If this case is successful, TPN media notes, it could open up the window for other sectors, notably the nightlife, entertainment, and hospitality sectors, to file similar lawsuits whose owners also claim to have little to no financial aid for ongoing mandated closures of their business.
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