Thailand’s nightlife venues will reopen even if the government’s emergency decree is extended, with a major industry figure saying it could happen as soon as July 1.
Sa-nga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Traders Association, said following a Sunday meeting with the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s screening committee that he’s optimistic July 1 will be the restart date.
Deputy army chief Gen. Nattapol Nakpanit, a key CCSA player who sits on that panel, told reporters following the meeting that – contrary to an earlier assertion by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam – that bars can, indeed, reopen even if the emergency decree is extended beyond June 30.
Should the decree, put in place to give the government unfettered powers to control the coronavirus outbreak, expire, all current closure orders automatically would end, Nattapol said.
The full CCSA is expected to vote on the date for the final Phase 5 of reopening on Friday.
Sa-nga called for Sunday’s meeting to present a petition from nightlife operators and musicians who have been crushed by the three-month shutdown, arguing that there is little reason to keep bars closed when nearly everything else has reopened safely.
Thailand is one day short of reporting 28 days – two full Covid-19 incubation cycles – without community spread of the coronavirus. The government has implemented a widely used contact tracking application and strictly enforced social-distancing regulations.
Operators of bars, nightclubs, karaoke parlors and sports venues told the government that since there are no outstanding pieces of the disease-control strategy to put in place, it’s time to reopen fully.
Sa-nga said he considered the panel’s response “encouraging”, with committee members promising to consider the petition seriously.
Representatives from provincial business associations, however, walked away from the meeting less hopeful, saying they believed their reopenings would be left to provincial governors and even on a case-by-case basis.