Nightlife Venues in Thailand May Face Strict New Rules

When bars and clubs reopen next month, dancing, singing, and group activities might not be allowed.

Yao Rooftop Bar, at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse. (Photo: Yao Rooftop Bar)

Draft rules for the safe reopening of nightlife venues in Thailand have been revealed, ahead of being submitted to the government’s Centre for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for final approval on Friday. Over the weekend, CCSA promised that entertainment venues would be allowed to reopen in July under the fifth phase of the loosening of coronavirus restrictions nationwide.

The regulations include 22 articles detailing SOPs each nightspot must follow. Apart from conducting temperature screening and providing hand sanitizer at all entrances and exits, venues must be cleaned every 30 minutes to an hour, and staff members are required to wear both face masks and face shields. Drinks will only be served in glasses; there will be no bottle service to reduce the risk of contagion.

According to the Bangkok Post, there are fears that the proposed rules will severely affect the livelihoods of entertainment operators, who have been left without an income since pubs, bars, nightclubs, and karaoke parlors were shuttered across Thailand in March. Social-distancing measures will mean that venues will have to restrict the number of patrons at any one time, and limit the number of people in each group to five. Customers are to be seated at least one meter away from each other, with a minimum distance of two meters between tables.

Other regulations look set to keep more fun-loving patrons away. No dancing and singing will be allowed, nor will competitions (pub quizzes, for instance) and group activities be permitted; bar games such as pool and darts are also off-limits. A vague article that prohibits “gathering, shouting, wandering around the premises” raises questions about how it will be enforced. Live performances can resume, but musicians are required to wear face masks and partitions must be installed to separate spectators from performance areas.

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