Music Festival Ends After Chiang Mai Woman Sparks COVID Fears & Face Masks Not Worn

Big Mountain Music Festival

The deputy governor of Nakhon Ratchasima has asked the police to take legal action against the organisers of the Big Mountain Music Festival after the event went ahead on Sunday in defiance of an order cancelling its second day by the Nakhon Ratchasima governor over COVID-19 fears.

The organisers posted on the event’s Facebook page that Sunday evening’s performances ended at 10 pm after negotiations with provincial authorities.

On Sunday afternoon, organiser Yutthana “Ted” Boonorm appealed for the event not to be curtailed. However, despite giving assurances to the governor over safety procedures, the governor refused to change his mind.

Thousands flocked to the area where they were asked to wear face masks at all times and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Not all of them followed suit.

A Big Mountain Music Festival ticket costs from 1,500-3,500 baht and a four ticket pack plus the rental of a motorhome for the period can top 35,000 baht.

Meanwhile, penalties for the violation by the organisers include a jail term of up to a year and/or 100,000 baht fine, according to the law on communicable disease control.

The second day of the two-day festival in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima was believed to have been cancelled after governor Wichien Chantharanothai, who chairs the provincial communicable disease committee, made a last-minute decision the day before.

The order issued on Sunday morning said health authorities observing the event on Saturday night had found the venue to be overcrowded with many not following mandatory face mask stipulations.

“The concert organisers did not strictly follow the measures to prevent and control COVID-19,” the order said.

Fears spiked after reports on Saturday that a woman who travelled to the festival from Chiang Mai had developed a fever. But Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said the woman had tested negative for COVID-19.

Adding to the confusion, just a few hours after the governor announced the festival was to end early, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul overruled the order in a Facebook post. Mr Charnvirakul said Big Mountain would continue but warned the organisers to enforce social distancing rules.

“There will be more shows today,” Mr Charnvirakul stressed in his message.

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Dr Karnkawinpong posted a supportive message on the DDC’s Facebook page, saying “activities” could be held because no new outbreak of the virus had occurred in the country.

The sold-out Big Mountain event at the Ocean Khao Yai Golf Club started on Saturday and drew 30,000 spectators. In recent years, the festival has been one of the biggest and most popular music festivals in the country. Performances had been scheduled on the second day from 3 pm until 2 am this morning.