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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