CHIANG MAI — A restaurant owner in the northern province of Chiang Mai said on Sunday he was instructed by Tourist Police to remove a sign barring Chinese customers from eating there.
Waraphat Thapiang, the owner of Kloijai Khaosoi in Mae On district, said she put up the notice out of fear of coronavirus last week, but photos of the sign soon went viral on the internet and prompted the police to visit her business.
The Tourist Police informed her the sign might “affect national security,” and told her to change the words to read “We run out of food” in Chinese instead, which she complied, though Waraphat said the change made her “uncomfortable.”
“I feel very uncomfortable,” the 33-year-old businesswoman said. “I wrote that sign in the first place because I don’t know which one of the Chinese customers who [ate] at my restaurant was infected.”
The sign appeared to be first posted on a Facebook group about news and happenings in Chiang Mai, where the user asked, “Is this the right thing to do?” The photo was soon widely shared, drawing both agreement and disagreement with the Waraphat ’s action.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the restaurant owner said she posted the notice after a group of Thai customers left her restaurant when they heard that Chinese tourists were eating in the same establishment.
Thailand counts 14 cases of confirmed coronavirus infection so far, all but two of them tourists from mainland China. Despite calls on social media, the government has declined to suspend visas for Chinese tourists entering the kingdom so far.
The incident also came at a time of rising racist sentiments against Chinese nationals and Asians worldwide.