Major Cineplex Faces Charges Over Fanmeet in Pandemic

A now-deleted image posted by Major Cineplex about the June 5, 2020 event at Siam Paragon.

BANGKOK — Police said Tuesday they are looking to charge a downtown cinema for holding a celebrity fan event where attendants did not practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Pakkapong Pongpetra said Tuesday that Major Cineplex employees will meet with police tomorrow to present information about the event held at Siam Paragon shopping mall on June 5. The cinema faces charges of breaching the Emergency Decree, which bans large gatherings.

“If all the evidence and witnesses are there, then we can continue to charge them for breaking the emergency decree,” Lt. Gen. Pakkapong said.

At Friday’s event, fans came out in droves to meet stars Anan “Yin” Wong and Wanarat “War” Ratsameerat at the “Ship Couple or Real Couple?” fanmeet, which was also broadcast live on Major Cineplex’s Facebook. The gathering soon drew criticism for what appears to be a disregard to social distancing policies.

Major Cineplex later issued an apology Sunday saying that they would observe stricter safety measures. The Siam Paragon Branch was closed from Sunday through Tuesday.

Assistant police commissioner Lt. Gen. Piya Utayo said Monday that after talking to Siam Paragon and Major Cineplex representatives, he believed that the event likely broke the law because organizers posted on Instagram encouraging fans to come meet the stars.

Breaking the Emergency Decree is punishable by two years in prison and a fine of 40,000 baht

Despite online advertisements of the event, theater reps said that they did not hold a fan meeting, but fans showed up of their own accord to see the celebrities. Siam Paragon also said Major Cineplex did not inform them that they would be holding the fanmeet.

Pakkapong said Yin and War could only be charged if they organized the event.

Although businesses are starting to reopen, large gatherings remain banned under the emergency rule. A maximum of 50 attendants are allowed for each public event and meeting.