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CCSA to Consider Ending Farcical ‘Closure’ of Bars, Clubs

With Nearly All Bars Already Open, Panel on Friday to Weigh 'Green Zones' to Allow Full, Legal Operation

Pattaya's Soi LK Metro on May 7. All bars were open, even though Thailand's bars supposedly are closed. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
Pattaya's Soi LK Metro on May 7. All bars were open, even though Thailand's bars supposedly are closed. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday will consider ending the farce that is Thailand’s supposed ban on bars and nightlife, officially allowing clubs to reopen legally.

Nearly every bar in Thailand – from the Myst disco in Pattaya to topless bars on the infamous Soi Cowboy – already are open as “restaurants”, thanks to hefty bribes to corrupt police and dodgy restaurant licenses.

At this point, only the largest clubs in the country aren’t open, and even some of those plan to reopen this weekend, with or without the CCSA’s blessing.

Numerous plans have been floated to allow full, legal reopening in recent weeks, from “endemic sandboxes” to limiting clubs to open in Phuket and southern islands, under restrictions. Now the Public Health Ministry is talking about repurposing “green” zones – which once represented provinces free of Covid-19 threats – to designate areas where nightlife officially is allowed.

A high-level source at the ministry said that as the Covid-19 situation improves, public health officials were considering the introduction of the green zones where disease-control measures would be relaxed and pubs and bars could be reopened.

The officials would finalize the zones and propose the new zoning measure and the reopening of pubs and bars to the CCSA’s meeting on May 20 where the fate of Thailand Pass also will be determined.

The Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association said that tourism-related operators and nightlife business organizations proposed the reopening of pubs and bars on June 1 in 28 provinces declared as tourism zones to revive entertainment-related business.

Provinces now fall into two categories: yellow zones for close Covid-19 surveillance in 65 provinces and blue zones for tourism promotion in 12 provinces namely Bangkok, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phangnga, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Rayong and Songkhla.

If bars do get the legal go-ahead, it likely will come with another silly list of unenforceable rules and restrictions that, like in 2020, were soon forgotten.