Home Living Entertainment

Forget July, 2 a.m. Closing for Thailand’s Bars Effective Now

Nana Plaza Soi 4 Bangkok Go-Go Bars Tuk-Tuk Stumble Inn Hillary Morning Night Nightlife Bars Go-Go
A tuk-tuk passes Bangkok's Nana Plaza in 2020 when bars were still allowed to open. Photo: Bangkok Herald

Disguised by bureaucratic babble in Thursday’s order ending Thailand’s mask mandate was permission for the country’s nightlife industry to resume normal hours.

The multi-point order, published late Thursday night in the Royal Gazette, meant that, effective immediately, was the “extension of time for enforcement of disease control and prevention measures”.

No one but the bureaucrats were quite sure what meant at the time, but it turns out those were the words bar owners have been waiting to hear for more than two years: They can go back to 2019 hours.

If was were any doubt, it was removed Friday when Chonburi Gov. Gov. Pakarathorn Thienchai released his local order reconfirming the Royal Gazette, explicating stating bars, clubs, karaoke joints, soapy massage parlors and other nightlife venues can stay open until the time specified in local law.

For places such as Walking Street in Pattaya and the three “entertainment zones” in Bangkok, including Nana Plaza and the RCA club district, that means 2 a.m. closing is now legal.

Outside the zones, the law technically says bars must close at midnight, but that rarely was the case before the coronavirus pandemic. Pubs usually closed up around 1 a.m. while nightclubs went until 4 a.m. or later.

The government noted that, to qualify for normal hours, pubs, bars and the like must have the Thai Stop Covid-2 Plus certification from the Ministry of Public Health.

Of course, this being Thailand, while the law now says 2 a.m. closing is legal, whether it happens or not remains up to local police, who, at least the past two nights, stubbornly have stuck to the July 1 effective date initially proposed.

Early closing over the past 27 months been a windfall for the corrupt-to-the-core Royal Thai Police. Bars wanting to reopen without the proper licenses or certifications, or legal ones simply trying to stay open later, have paid hundreds of millions of baht, if not more, since March 2020 to dirty cops.

Need more evidence? Four Chiang Rai officers were arrested Friday for taking a million baht in bribes to turn a blind eye to Chinese porn-movie makers filming sex shows at two resorts in Muang District in the northern province.

Police are loathe to see the early-closing gravy train end and will drag out midnight closing for as long as they can.