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Thailand’s Songkran headache – Bangkok entertainment venues closed days before holiday

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In the day’s before Thailand’s biggest annual party begins there’s been fresh clusters breaking out in Bangkok and Chon Buri’s nightlife.

Already the BMA has closed nightlife venues in three popular districts “as a precautionary measure” for at least two weeks, as of last night. Officials will meet today to mull a blanket closing time for entertainment venues and restaurants across Bangkok as well as alcohol restrictions… not the sort of start the hospitality industry was hoping for with Songkran kicking off this weekend.

The Thai government had already taken the ‘song’ out of Songkran with a ban on water splashing, concerts and group gatherings, including foam parties. The inference is officials want a return to a more traditional Songkran, visits to temples and gentle pouring of water over elderly relatives and Buddha images. They certainly wanted to avoid group gatherings and super-spreader events.

The Thaiger’s full coverage of Thailand’s Covid-19 response HERE.

After last year’s cancellation of Songkran, the ban on Songkran parties certainly ‘poured cold water’ on the plans of millions of Thais celebrating their new year festivities. These new bans on entertainment venues in popular city party haunts is just another blow.

And whilst there have been new infections reported in Chon Buri, it hasn’t yet affected Pattaya and its entertainment cash-cow. But it may just be a matter of time before officials just put a blanket ban on Thailand’s nightlife until they get the latest outbreak under control.

Songkran means ‘travel’ as workers will flee the city for ‘up country’ homes to spend the extended Songkran holiday with family. The headache for officials is that the clusters in Bangkok and inner-city suburbs could easily spread into other provinces. Cancelling much of the Songkran ‘splashing’ won’t stop Thais from travelling home during the period – airlines are already heavily booked.

Yesterday, Dr Yong, the chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, warned about a third or even fourth wave of Covid that may emerge as a result of the government policy to encourage people to enjoy themselves and spend more during the upcoming Songkran festival.

“Be prepared to see the daily infection rates jump from tens to hundreds per day after the Songkran festival.”

The past week Thai media has been full of all the hoopla and announcements of the 3-part re-opening plans for the country, inviting tourists from around the world to flock back to Thailand. Now officials will be forced to keep a brave public face and continue with their re-opening schedule whilst facing a rise in cases from Bangkok’s entertainment zones and a potential ‘Songkran spread’.

Today the CCSA reported 250 new Covid infections, 245 of them locally transmitted and 5 imported. Thailand has reported a total of 29,321since January 2020, 95 deaths and 27,840 recoveries.

 

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. gigi

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Instead of going out in the open, I don’t open, like the daisy game, Why they don’t think about a project like: well, vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists are welcome with tests done at departure and arrival without quarantine and in case of infection, we offer free hospital medical assistance !!! Obviously everyone will have to wear a mask and keep a safe distance !!!

  2. Anthony Gallagher

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Yes the Thai Gov need to get a move on with the vaccine not just waiting for things to happen, its not going away and will be with us for years !!

  3. Steve

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Much as I understand about opening up Thailand for tourism and tourist places,shouldn’t ALL Thais be vaccinated too? Soon, I might be able to visit Phuket or Pattaya but not say Udon Thani/Khon Kaen because they are not “tourist” destinations. A bit silly.

  4. David Mann

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    Steve, they don’t want you to visit Udon or Khon Kaen. They have only ever wanted you to come to Thailand on holiday for 2 to 4 weeks. Spend as much money as you possibly can. Get on a plane and go home and repeat in 6 or 12 months time. If you move off the tourist route you may end up staying and that’s the very last thing the Thais want you to do.

  5. gigi

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    David, congratulation THE BEST COMMENT!!! Really!!!

  6. EdwardV

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Well to be fair Steve, you can already visit Udon Thani and Khon Kaen. You just have to do so after quarantining in an ASQ hotel for one week. That is if you are already vaccinated. The upcoming Phuket plan is basically the same thing, only are you trading being locked in a hotel room for being banned from leaving the island. Well at least for that one week time frame.

  7. James R

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 1:48 am

    David

    You mean like every other country in the world re the 2 to 4 weeks holiday?

    The UK gets 40 million tourists arriving and departing each year, do you really think we want them all to say on?

    That is roughly the same number of tourists as Thailand, if they all stay where are you going to put them? I doubt if many want to go to Issan though.

    Restaurants, the owners want customers to come in, eat pay and then leave so they can make money, I doubt if they then want them to move in with them.

    I am continually amazed at the bizarre comments some people make.

  8. david jones

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:53 am

    the thai population is about 75million or so , i can understand that it is difficult for them to get hold of vaccines and knowing about thailand nothing is free so how are they going to vaccinate the population and open up for tourists ? i wish them well but i cant see many going to go through all the red tape to go on holiday . if you have family and property that would be different

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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