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  • Bars, Nightclubs, Massage closed until 15.01.2022

    Reopening of Bars, Nightclubs and Massage Parlors pushed to mid-January 2022

    It’s going to be at least two months until you’ll be able to legally drink a beer at a bar in Thailand… The long-awaited reopening of bars and nightlife venues has been pushed to January 15, 2022. The CCSA held a general meeting chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today and decided to push back the reopening date for entertainment venues. Alcohol sales at restaurants is now only allowed in areas classified as “blue zones” including Bangkok and Phuket.

    Bars, pubs, nightclubs and other entertainment venues have been closed since April due to the rise of the latest and most severe wave of Covid-19 in Thailand. The first clusters were found in Bangkok’s Thong Lor nightlife district in late-March. Health officials continued report a trend of Covid-19 transmissions linked to entertainment venues, prompting government-ordered closures throughout Thailand.

    Since the November 1 reopening, restaurants in the four provinces classified as “blue zones,” which includes Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Nga, and Phuket, have been allowed to served alcohol. In Phuket, which reopened under the pilot “Sandbox” scheme in July, alcohol sales at restaurants have been allowed since October. Regulations on the alcohol sales at “blue zone” restaurants, such as what hours booze can be served, vary by province.

    On Koh Samui, which reopened in July under an island quarantine scheme, officials lifted the alcohol ban on October 1 for restaurants registered under the “Vaccine Green Zone” programme.

  • #2
    Will Thailand’s nightlife survive another 2 months of closure?

    On Friday morning we were talking up the speculation that Thailand’s bars would be permitted to reopen on December 1. It had been a strong rumour, verified with countless politicians and police. Surely, with all the open flaunting of the current alcohol ban, the government had just given up and were ready to reopen the bars, officially.

    The daily Covid infections were still dropping, along with Covid-related deaths.

    Out of all the comments coming in across The Thaiger desk over the past month, the ‘open the bars’ was a leading contender. There were arguments that Thailand couldn’t possibly survive without foreign tourists who would flock back to the bars and save the local economy. Others said they definitely wouldn’t come back until at least they could visit their favourite bar. So the expectation was strong, after so many months of, mostly, falling infection number and deaths, that the bars would follow suit, along with everything else, and simply ‘open’.

    The powerful alcohol industry had been in full lobby mode for 2 months, calling for urgent attention to their, and all other nightlife, businesses. Bar owners were taking matters into their own hands and speaking out on social media, even going on hunger strikes, calling for an end to the bar and nightlife closures. And after the hype over the November 1 ‘reopening’ of the borders to fully vaccinated travellers without quarantine (well, there was only 1 night of quarantine), the opening of Thailand’s bar scene was probably next on the list. Surely it was time. But we were all wrong.

    The CCSA, chaired by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced yesterday it would delay the reopening of bars and nightlife entertainment venues until at least January 15. Even the most pessimistic pundits were shocked. So why? Announcing the post New Year reopening date, Dr. Taweesin Visanuyotin, the CCSA spokesman, cited concerns over venue ventilation and “inefficient prevention measures” in pubs, bars and karaoke joints.

    “We will allow the businesses to reopen, but we might start testing in some areas first.”
    Thailand’s nightlife has been closed since April 2021 when some ‘gentleman bars’ in the Thong Lor and Ekkamai districts along the Sukhumvit strip became super-spreader venues which quickly spread the new Delta variant of Covid-19. The government gleefully pointed their fingers at these hi-so brothels despite many serving cabinet ministers being outed as guests who were “frequent visitors”. So the government has been extremely risk-averse when it comes to bars and nightlife, not wanting another surge of Covid. But, as it is, with the bars staying silent for another 2 months, the country loses another high season of traveller traffic. Sure, there will be a continuous dribble of arriving travellers, including some tourists, who will be prepared to go through the paperwork and risks (albeit small risks of testing positive when they arrive), along with an almost non-existent nightlife scene when they get here.

    But any larger numbers of tourists will be waiting for either no restrictions, or very few, and the nightlife restored to, well, what people expect when they come to Thailand. And then there’s the anti-mask brigade who will be waiting a lot longer than January 15, 2021 if they want to wander around Thailand without a face mask. The current arrivals, averaging 3,000 per day, are about 1/40th of pre-Covid days. And, after a flurry of new arrivals in the first few days, the curve has flattened, although the daily arrivals are likely to pick up a bit over the next month – bars closed or not.

    Of course none of this is quite as clear or as bleak as some would like to paint it. Many bars ARE open, especially in some of the hardest hit tourists areas of Patong, Nana, Chaweng and Patong. Pattaya, less so. In plenty of cases, the word “bar” has been crossed out and chicken nuggets being served with a beer, barging through a loophole in the current guidelines which allows restaurants in some areas to serve alcohol until 9:00 pm. You can hardly blame the venue owners for flaunting the laws, probably making a few donations to “police station charities” along the way. And a core of locals and travellers are happy to take advantage of the lights being on and the drinks flowing again.

    The, almost daily, police raids of venues around the country has done little to deter the illegal reopening of these venues – it’s in clear view and few seems to care much, including the authorities. Not all bars of course. But in some areas… maybe 10%. Will we see more bars and clubs openly flaunting the laws? Or will the police enforce the ongoing ban for another 2 months? Or maybe the CCSA will mount some sort of staged review of the alcohol restrictions along the way? For now, it’s going to, officially, be a dry new year and another 2 months of lost opportunities for the bar and nightlife businesses.


    • #3
      Next CCSA meeting will discuss opening nightlife businesses sooner

      Facing enormous pressure from entertainment and nightlife workers and businesses, the National Security Council Secretary-General hinted that lifting the ban on nightlife will be up for discussion at the next CCSA meeting. He said PM Prayut Chan-o-cha understands and sympathises with those in the industry but also worries about the Covid-19 situation as infections are still high and the country has reopened its borders to international tourists.

      Businesses and workers affected by the shutdown since April have become increasingly frustrated and vocal about their plight, participating in protests and presenting petitions to government officials. And some recent petitions will be reviewed and considered at the next CCSA meeting some time around the 26th of November.

      The NSC official suggested that the committee may relent and unpopular rule barring nightclubs, pubs, bars, karaoke and other nightlife venues from opening may be softened or lifted. Whatever remains of a high season is happening now, and while many businesses are seeing an uptick in patronage, entertainment venues are being blocked from seeing any profits until after New Year’s Eve – a night that is obviously crucial to nightlife businesses – with the previous ruling delaying possible reopening until at least January 15.2022

      The ban isn’t only hurting the businesses though. There is widespread sentiment that tourism won’t recover in any significant way as long as alcohol and entertainment remain banned. While some teetotalers take the position that there’s more to Thailand than going out and getting belligerent drunk all night at a throbbing club with pounding music, a large percentage of travellers trying to enjoy a leisure vacation – even those who don’t go clubbing – are disinterested in coming to a country where they can’t even have a beer with dinner.

      The NSC Secretary-General believes that the petitions filed by businesses and workers united have laid out a reasonable plan to reopen, addressing safety conditions, staffing, preparation and service for Covid-19 safety, location and service conditions in order to be prepared to enact and enforce safety measures to keep a reopening secure and minimise the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak.


      • #4
        Health Minister concerned that once bars reopen, they could be Covid “hotspots”

        Thailand’s Public Health Minister says he’s concerned that places that serve alcohol could become Covid-19 “hotspots” as people who are intoxicated are less likely to follow disease control measures. Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says bars and restaurants serving beer and cocktails should strictly follow Covid Free Setting guidelines, which includes vaccinating staff and requiring customers show either proof of vaccination or results from a recent Covid-19 test. Anutin reiterated that staff should make sure customers are fully vaccinated before entering the establishment.

        “Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages to customers must strictly follow Covid Free Setting measures, as well as other disease control measures announced by the ministry… Provincial communicable disease committees must inspect these businesses thoroughly before they are allowed to reopen. Cooks, servers and other staff must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at the rate required by Safety & Health Administration and SHA Plus standards.” “If all preventive measures are strictly followed, we will soon be able to reopen other businesses as well.”
        Anutin says that 10 million people in Thailand still need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and the Health Ministry will dispatch mobile units to accelerate inoculations in rural areas where many are still waiting to get vaccinated.

        While some people have reservations with private hospitals for a vaccine, like Moderna, Anutin is encouraging the public to first get a free shot through the government’s campaign.

        “Currently we have mRNA vaccines, namely Pfizer and Moderna, in stock, which have been directly donated to the government. You can inform a nearby hospital or vaccination unit if you want to be inoculated, while doctors will consider giving booster shots depending on a person’s vaccination history and risk level.”


        • #5
          Covid-19 infections hit Phuket Bangla Road Entertainment

          Phuket is struggling with 2 clusters of Covid-19 that have health authorities worried, with one in schools and one in the centre of tourism on Bangla Road in Patong. The Deputy Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital detailed the 2 main clusters and warned that infections are increasing on the island. Phuket had fallen from a time when daily infections were as high as 250 per day down to about 50 cases per day, but have now climbed back up to 80 and yesterday saw 105 infections. The majority of those 105 infections were found in those 2 clusters. In Patong, the nightlife and entertainment hub of Phuket, 24 people tested positive for Covid-19 out of 391 tested. The at-risk group were centred around the infamous Bangla Road and included tourists, locals, and staff of entertainment venues.

          The outbreak sent a wave of worry through the community where bars and nightlife remain closed, but with alcohol allowed at restaurants, many venues serve food but operate as surrogate bars and clubs for the tourism industry that is slowly creeping back to life. While the businesses in Phuket want to open freely, they fear another lockdown if Covid-19 infections grow. Phuket businesses had agreed collectively to do a deep cleaning with a 3-day shutdown in the face of a Covid-19 outbreak for any business where at least 2 infections were found. And it is rumoured that patrons and staff are being met with tighter checks for Covid-19 vaccination in the past few days and businesses attempt to self-regulate by strictly abiding by the provincial Covid-19 prevention measures.

          In the case of the school infections, Phuket students have returned from online classes to on-site learning and some students were infected by family members in their home and then brought the virus to school where it spread. Vachira’s Deputy Director said family outbreaks spreading in schools has been a common problem in Phuket since schools reopened.

          “Relevant agencies, including schools and provincial education authorities, are now monitoring the situation and jointly finding solutions and measures to prevent and control infections among students. We are encouraging students not to socialize with each other when classes are out of session, however, this is not an easy measure.”


          • #6
            CCSA hints that some bars and nightclubs could reopen before January 16.2022

            The long awaited reopening of bars and nightclubs is still set for January 16, but a government spokesperson has hinted that they could reopen sooner. The deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nopakun Natapanu, says that the CCSA decided to stay with the plan to for January, but will allow relevant agencies to continue to work closely with business operators to ensure that they can “reopen at the earliest opportunity.”

            Bars and nightclubs nationwide were ordered to close in April as many of the Covid clusters reported at the start of the latest wave of the virus were said to be linked to entertainment venues. Recently, Covid-19 clusters linked were reported at the Pattaya Music Festival and Phuket’s famous walking street, Bangla Road.

            There have been tight restrictions on alcohol as people who are intoxicated are less likely to follow disease control measures, like wearing masks and social distancing. While bars are still closed, alcohol is now allowed to be served at restaurants in so-called “blue zones,” or pilot tourism areas, including Bangkok and Phuket.

            While bars and nightclubs are supposed to be closed, some… like on Bangkok’s Khao San Road… have been open. Other venues have looked into operating as “restaurants” as a way to reopen under the current measures.


            • #7
              Business and government leaders meet to reopen Pattaya Bars
              Click image for larger version  Name:	Closed.jpg Views:	0 Size:	228.7 KB ID:	2663

              A high-level meeting is the latest in the non-stop attempts by businesses in Pattaya to reopen bars and entertainment venues, with business leaders and government officials meeting at Pattaya City Hall yesterday to discuss the issue. The conference was run by the president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, the Bang Lamung District Chief, the mayor of Pattaya, and a representative of the Jomtien Bar and Restaurant Owner’s Association.

              Provincial and health officials from Chon Buri were also in attendance as well as the new Pattaya Police Chief and several senior law enforcement officials from Pattaya and Chon Buri. They met with representatives covering almost all sectors from various tourism and business organisations.

              The president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association spoke at the meeting about how restaurants can now serve alcohol until 11 pm and have been operating as bars while entertainment venues remain shuttered. He pointed to the lack of surges in Covid-19 infections despite many festivals drawing crowds to Pattaya each week, crowds that other sectors can earn money from by the nightlife sectors can do nothing.

              “We have continued to ask the CCSA for the legal reopening of bars and entertainment venues before New Year as there will be many tourists that visit Pattaya. Pattaya has been running massive events every weekend since November 1st and there has been no sign of an increase in Covid-19 cases in the area, despite tens of thousands of domestic tourists visiting every single weekend and many events, like the fireworks festival, being very successful.”
              He argued that over 80% of the province has had at least one vaccine and in Pattaya City, over 85% of people are fully vaccinated and that the majority of provincial Covid-19 faces are not near tourists, being found in construction and factory work camps mainly. Even the hospitals are well equipped with sufficient beds available to handle any outbreak.

              The tourism leader pointed out the inequality as some bars with enough resources have converted to “restaurants” and gone through the complex SHA+ certification, but small businesses crippled by the pandemic don’t have the time or money to make that conversion and get certified.

              He also stressed that the nightlife industry recognises that there are many citizens, organisations, and government officials that detest Pattaya’s reputation as a sleazy party scene, but asserts that bars and clubs are the magnets that draw a high percentage of tourists to the area, and the influx of people means profits not just for bars, but for restaurants, shops, hotels and virtually every other business sector in the area.

              The meeting ended with fairly mutual agreement that steps need to be taken to reopen entertainment venues, but in the end, it is the CCSA that can allow this to happen, and so far they haven’t budged from their plans to reconsider opening nightlife venues after January 15. 2022


              • #8
                Bangkok revises closure order, bars and nightclubs to stay closed until January 15.2022

                Bangkok officials revised its provincial closure order and extended the date the order is in effect to January 15, requiring bars and entertainment venues to remain shut for at least the next two weeks, which is in line with government’s nationwide closure order.

                Approved New Year countdown events still can continue under the “Covid-19 Free Setting” measures, which require proof of vaccination or an ATK test result at the door for large events. Some bars in Bangkok, like on Khao San Road, have opened under the same measures.

                Officials from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will meet next month and will decide on whether to allow nightlife venues to reopen after being shut for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bangkok governor together with the committee of the Department of Disease and Control announced that they pushed the opening date for bars and nightclubs in the capital from January 1 to January 15 to control the spread of Covid-19.

                Violating the provincial disease control measure carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine up to 100,000 baht. Violators can also be charged under the nationwide emergency decree which carries a penalty of up to two years in jail and a fine up to 40,000 baht.


                • #9
                  Health minister calls for re-opening of bars, nightclubs to be pushed back

                  Thailand’s Health Minister says the re-opening of nightlife venues should be postponed given the number of businesses that failed to implement disease prevention measures. Anutin Charnvirakul’s suggestion comes as a number of clusters of the Omicron variant have led to major outbreaks and can be traced back to bars and restaurants in a number of provinces.

                  Anutin says there is evidence that the outbreaks originated at bars and restaurants where alcohol was being sold and Covid-19 prevention measures were not being adhered to. According to a Bangkok Post report, the health minister says venues that repeatedly failed to implement disease control measures are the reason the government must now reconsider the planned re-opening of other venues, such as nightclubs.

                  “The Department of Disease Control will also reconsider whether it would be appropriate to re-open such venues on January 15.2022”
                  According to the report, he goes on to slam the “lack of conscience” of such operators, blaming them for putting Thailand at risk of another Covid-19 wave and threatening them with legal repercussions. To date, Thailand has reported 2,062 confirmed cases of the highly-contagious Omicron variant. The north-eastern provinces of Kalasin and Roi Et have reported major clusters, with 231 and 180 infections respectively, while the eastern province of Chon Buri has reported a cluster of 70.

                  Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the DDC says the Omicron variant will continue to spread across Thailand in the coming months. He has urged people to test themselves with antigen kits regularly and to work from home if they can.

                  “We expect to see Omicron cases rise in the next 1 or 2 months.”