Nightspots Operators Frustrated by Limited June 1st Reopening

Operators of Bangkok’s nighttime venues have criticized tight controls on operating hours a day before their reopening.

The government has allowed nightlife venues to reopen in 31 Thai provinces from Wednesday, more than two years after a prolonged lockdown that helped keep Covid-19 under control. The measure extends to bars, pubs, massage parlors, karaoke venues, and similar businesses.

The list of 31 provinces includes the capital, Phuket, Chon Buri, and Chiang Mai. They have all been classified as green or blue zones, meaning they can serve alcohol without being categorized as restaurants.

However, nightlife venues in the 46 provinces classified as high surveillance or yellow zones can only resume alcohol selling if they reclassify their businesses. Also, all nighttime venues across the country must close at midnight.

Before reopening, Bangkok’s nightlife outlets must also register through Thai Stop Covid 2Plus (TSC 2+), complete the self-assessment process, and apply for a resume operations permit.

They must then undergo an inspection by the district office before receiving official clearance to reopen.

Many late-night business operators have welcomed the government’s decision to relax Covid-19 restrictions but believe the move only boosts the battered industry halfway.

According to some nightlife venue owners, many tourists have changed their destinations to other countries to avoid facing Thailand’s entry requirements, such as expensive insurance and strict Covid-19 controls.

A Khao San operator said business owners are in debt after more than two years of pandemic and criticized the government for “getting nervous” when the outbreak is waning.

Night entertainment owners have also criticized the disease control measures, saying they are impractical for their businesses.

Khao San Road Business Association’s president Sanga Ruangwattanakul said lifting Covid-19 restrictions this week would make no difference to nighttime venues that need an extension in opening hours beyond midnight or those that cannot serve alcohol after 5: 00 p.m.

Mr. Sanga urged the government to revoke the emergency decree and lift the communicable disease control law, arguing that both measures may deter international tourists from visiting Thailand. He also said the country could see 300-400 million flowing into the local economy if nightspots open until at least 2:00 a.m.

“The outbreak is easing and most people are fully vaccinated. Japan has already relaxed outdoor face-mask rules. But the government is afraid of this and that. We will be left behind,” he stated.