BANGKOK Thai soccer fans hoping to watch the World Cup in a bar with a beer may have no choice but to stay at home after their military government said on Thursday a curfew would probably remain in force during the month-long competition.
The military seized power on May 22 and imposed a nationwide curfew. It has been lifted in a few tourist areas but runs from midnight to 4 a.m. in most of the country, and many of the games in Brazil from June 12 kick off then or just before.
"During this period, our priority is security," Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the military's National Council for Peace and Order, told reporters.
"We will consider lifting it but we want the public to understand that during this period they may have to watch the World Cup at home and not at restaurants."
That will come as a disappointment to Thailand's ardent soccer fans, who spent the last World Cup watching televised games at one of the outdoor beer gardens that sprang up during the competition.
It will also do little to help the generals' public relations campaign aimed at promoting unity and happiness in a country where years of deep political divisions have taken their toll.
There have been coup protests every day but, under the army's strict rules that include a ban on political gatherings of more than five people, numbers have wavered.
On Wednesday the army put on a "Return Happiness to the Public" event at the landmark Victory Monument in Bangkok, complete with street food, music and women in military fatigues posing for photographs with members of the public.
(Additional reporting Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Alan Raybould and Clarence Fernandez)