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Thai nightlife grapples with “new normal”

Jack Burton




Thailand’s nightlife scene is grappling with a ‘new normal’ as changes upon its recent reopening see facemasks joining the normal bikini wear in red-light districts across the Kingdom.

After being forced to close for more than 3 months in order to stop the spread of Covid-19, bars, karaoke venues and massage parlours are in the latest category of businesses allowed to reopen under new conditions, now that Thailand has gone more than a month without any community transmission of the virus.

The reopening means a return to work for hundreds of thousands of people in the nightlife industry who have struggled to survive. “Bee,” a 27 year old dancer, who goes by her stage name at the XXX Lounge in the Patpong district, said:

“I lost all my income. I’m glad that I can come back to work in a job that I’m good at. I’m ok with the mask because it’s one of the precautions.”

All customers must have their temperature taken before entering, and must give a name and telephone number or register with the Thai Chana app. Inside, everybody must sit at least one metre apart, and 2 metres from the stage. But one British expatriate questioned the need:

“You can take a BTS train in the morning with 200 people on a packed train but then you come into a bar and still have to sit 2 metres apart.”

The government has staggered the reopening of public places over several weeks with schools, colleges and universities officially resuming yesterday.

Despite a low death toll (58 out of 3,173 infections- a relatively low number even within the region), Thailand’s economy is expected to sink further than any other in Southeast Asia, with the number of foreign tourists expected to drop 80% or more this year.

At the Dream Boy club in Bangkok’s Patpong Soi 1, bare-chested men with face shields tried to entice the few passersby off the street, but many businesses remain shut and those who have opened are only seeing a few customers.

“There are bars all over Bangkok that have been open for 10 to 15 years and now they are closed and they are not coming back.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar

    paul scott

    Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    No, I don’t think so. Any remaining Europeans in Thailand are likely trying to get out. Thailand is collapsing now into a deep recession. If you don’t believe that just wait three months and reconsider.

    • Avatar

      Vincent Vermeulen

      Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      The government must be very pleased

    • Avatar

      Robert Elliott

      Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      I dont think Thailand is to concerned about the loss of western tourists. The focus in the last few years is on Chinese and Indian tourists.

  2. Avatar

    Terry Williams

    Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    So many farang are now re-considering Thailand and are looking to re-locate in other countries that are more tourist friendly and don’t call them “dirty farangs” like the government officials do here!

  3. Avatar

    Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

    Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    I think it is time for Thai Government to stop pretending the victory over Corona Virus, ignoring the bigger crisis in economy.Millions are jobless now, people are desperate for money, businesses are collapsing everyday.

    They should stop thinking ‘foreigner’ as a problem, They can’t say no to tourist for long, they have to make a way to allow tourist. Corona virus is not going to disappear soon.

  4. Avatar


    Friday, July 3, 2020 at 1:49 am

    New Normal is Abnormal! Case closed!

  5. Avatar


    Friday, July 3, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Almost forgot, you can thank the WHO for putting out false and misleading information, fear mongering and for destroying the economy worldwide!

    World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ““pull out all the stops” to fight the (highly exaggerated) COVID-19 coronavirus as it continues to spread outside of China.“This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses,” Well, he actually managed to pull out all the stops! Literally!

    This man should be in jail (along with many others!) And here’s why!

    Mind you he’s definitely not the only one who should be brought to justice! Wake up people!

    • Avatar

      sparky da moose

      Sunday, July 5, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      You got some serious issues mate! you really need to chill and get a life!

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, July 3, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Have to sit two meters apart?
    So if a customers invites a dancer for a drink, she will wear a mask and sit two meters away.
    No thanks.
    By the way here in Phnom Penh all the bars and massage parlors, and cafes are open and most never closed.
    50 cent beers everywhere.
    Thailand is finished.

    • Avatar


      Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

      …and when Myanmar finally opens up to tourism and the hundreds of Islands and thousands of kilometers of coastline is developed – Thailand will die a death

  7. Avatar

    Michel Metzger

    Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    20 million of Thais are now enrolled in the 5000 THB/month rescue scheme. Most of them have NOT see the first payment. This cannot simply continue. For most COVID is not lethal, starving is!

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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