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

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.

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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.

Pattaya News

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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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