Thai nightlife midnight closing time under pressure this week

The current ‘official’ closing time for nightlife venues, in 31 provinces around Thailand (yellow and blue zones), is midnight. That all kicked in at the start of this month. But, hey, it’s Thailand and there’s also been plenty of venues, particularly in the tourist zones, where the midnight close time has been stretched a bit.

But some netizens have noticed that there’s been a slightly stricter approach to the closing time recently.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has put his foot down and ordered police to enforce the time more enthusiastically and crack down on venues who keep their lights on after the midnight hour and keep the party going after the legal close time. Despite Thailand’s daily report of new Covid infections dropping dramatically since April 1, the Thai government have a lingering suspicion of Thailand’s nightlife after many of the clusters in popular night venue locations kicked off the main surges of Covid in the country over the past 2 years.

Today’s Covid report from the CCSA recorded 1,801 new Covid infections, the lowest daily report since May 4 last year.

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Meanwhile there’s been a campaign from venue operators to push the limits of the ongoing restrictions. Firstly, to get their businesses open legally – that stated when venues were allowed to open as ‘restaurants’ and serve alcohol – then they pushed for closing time to move from 9pm to 11pm. Then midnight. After 2 years of shuttered businesses it is easy to understand their enthusiasm to re-start their battered businesses.

Now that many nightlife venues are allowed to remain open until midnight, legally, the operators want the closing time to moved to at least 2am. Of course, some have decided unilaterally to remain open past midnight anyway, a matter which has raised the ire of the Thai prime minister.

This week the CCSA has a number of proposals to consider, coming from many sections of the Thai tourism and business community. They include easing the mask-wearing requirements, possible alterations to the Thailand Pass, opening some extra land border crossings AND reviewing official close times for nightlife.

But the Thai PM, also the Chairman of the CCSA, has made it clear he is unhappy about the abuse of the midnight close time and disinclined to support an extension of the closing times of bars, clubs, karaoke bars and massage venues.

The country’s Covid taskforce operates under the authority of the emergency decree, a situation that’s been in place since April 2020. The national ‘decree’ remains in place at least until the end of July this year and could be extended again, as it has been numerous times over the past 2 years.

Meanwhile, the newly-elected Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt is a fan of extending closing times on the city’s nightlife, saying that Thailand’s bar and pub culture is an integral part of Bangkok’s attraction to international travellers. The later closing time also keeps people out and about, going to restaurants and other venues.

But, for now anyway, the Thai government seem to be heeding the advice of the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella… “Oh, now, now, now, now, now, just a minute. You must understand, my dear: On the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will be as it was before.”

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Tim Newton

Tim joined The Thaiger as one of its first employees in 2018 as an English news writer/editor and then began to present The Thaiger's Daily news show in 2020, Thailand News Today (or TNT for short). He has lived in Thailand since 2011, having relocated from Australia.

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