Bangkok Governor to propose lifting of midnight close time and mask wearing
The new Bangkok Governor is pushing the CCSA to consider easing the current closing times for the capital’s nightlife, as well as asking for a similar easing of the face mask requirements.
His requests follow a botched easing of mask wearing by the Phuket Governor last week where he, one day, announced a variation of the CCSA guidelines for wearing masks in outdoor spaces. Then promptly had to re-apply the full requirement of wearing masks the day after.
Whilst the Phuket Governor never said that people won’t have to wear masks in Phuket everywhere, his announcement clearly gave the impression that people wouldn’t have to wear masks in open public spaces, an announcement confirmed by the Thai government’s national English-speaking media.
Now Bangkok’s Governor, Chadchart Sittupunt, will follow last week’s “misunderstanding” in Phuket with a similar request for the capital.
Currently closing times, officially, are midnight, for any nightlife, including massage parlours, bars, pubs and karaoke bars. In tourist towns like Pattaya and Patong (Phuket), the closing times have been more ‘flexible’ but the official closing time remains midnight.
Governor Chadchart believes that two key impediments to getting tourists back to Bangkok are the requirement to wear face masks in public open spaces as well as the midnight closing times.
From last Wednesday, nightspots have been allowed to officially reopen, with approved paperwork, and serve alcohol in Bangkok and 30 other Thai provinces. Many tourist zones had already been open, if not quite fully open, like Khao San Road, Nana, Soi Cowboy and Patpong, already.
A loop hole in the CCSA regulations allowed bars to register as ‘restaurants’ if they sought permission and serve some sort of food. Not much of the actual changes to a restaurant ever happened, but the loop hole allowed a lot of tourist hotspots to reopen earlier this year and serve alcohol. So the June 1 ‘official’ re-opening didn’t actually change anything – a lot of the nightlife was already open!
At this stage, despite doomsday predictions from Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the daily Covid numbers have remained stable, dropping from 4,563 on June 1 down into the 3,000s since then (today’s Covid infection Toal was 2,162). Over the weekend the Public Health Minister predicted that daily infections could rise to 10,000 again after the ‘official’ reopening on June 1.
He said that the numbers of new coronavirus cases could “soar” within 3-5 days after the country’s entertainment venues were given the official nod on June 1. His concerns were loud and clear, despite the fact that many of the venues around popular tourist locations had been open and operating for months.
“Customers should complete a third and fourth Covid-19 vaccination before going to bars, regardless of whether the user was young and healthy.”
He even warned the unvaccinated not to go to “such venues”.
Meanwhile, Bangkok’s Governor says there has been no problems reported since the reopening of the nightlife in 31 Provinces around Thailand, including Bangkok, on June 1.
“Calls are mounting for the closing time to be extended until 2am.”
He said an extension of the closing time would help ease overcrowding at nightlife venues.
The Governor acknowledged that the city’s nightlife contributes to the growth of the economy.
“An extension of the closing time will attract more people and tourists. I believe we are ready to get back to normal life.”
The Governor said that a resumption of post-midnight operations in the city’s nightlife will also help food vendors and taxis as well.
The Bangkok Post reports that City Hall’s communicable disease committee are meeting tomorrow to discuss revised measures to be presented to the CCSA at their next meeting. The removal of face masks in public places will be among the proposals.
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