Thai Chana app faces new test in bars and clubs


With nightlife venues set to reopen on July 1, the latest fly in the ointment is the compulsory signing-in with the government-backed Thai Chana registration device and app.  The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in its latest edict mandates its use to check in and out at all pubs, bars, karaoke joints, beer halls and other niteries as well as at soapy massage parlours.

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The Thai Chana app was developed by the information technology team of Krung Thai bank and has been strongly touted by the government as a national tool to track and notify people who might have been exposed to the coronavirus.  During the initial phase of the lockdown, malls and restaurants were told to enforce use of Thai Chana as well as insisting on face masks and body temperature checks for all.

However, recent weeks have witnessed a general slackening of the rules and even indifference in places.  A recent check on Pattaya superstores revealed that only one out of five was enforcing the required government checks.  Two were not even requiring customers to sign in manually whilst social distancing at checkout counters was decidedly hit and miss.  A similar pattern was observed in restaurants with some claiming not to have the Thai Chana Quick Response (QR) code or explaining that their manual temperature checking device was out of order.

The imminent reopening of bars and clubs has again given the Thai Chana app a high profile in the government’s well-intentioned campaign to prevent a second wave of the Covid-19 virus.  Several Pattaya-based entertainment venue gurus have already indicated that many clubs may not reopen as the 22 CCSA rules governing behavior and protocol inside premises are inconsistent with customer expectations. For some, the app could be the last straw.

There are also privacy concerns about the Thai Chana platform although these have been denied by the Krung Thai bank.  Thus the option for the user of keeping a log of places visited was discontinued after the initial pilot precisely to avoid accusations of potential spying by the app providers.  Nobody doubts that technology is an indispensable tool to fight the pandemic but it is not clear that Thai Chana will provide the answer.  Everyone is trusting hopefully that there will be no further domestic instances of the coronavirus whilst relying on quarantining to identify cases from abroad.  Time will show.