Bars, nightclubs and all other nightlife businesses in 31 provinces including all major tourist areas will be allowed to fully and legally reopen until June 1, but only until midnight.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday refused to take its foot fully off the neck of the country’s nightlife industry, only allowing legal reopening in “green zone” provinces where Covid-19 transmission is low and blue “tourism” zones that include Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai or Samui.
It also failed to help the tourism industry by declining to cancel the hated Thailand Pass system. Instead, the CCSA only exempted Thai nationals from needing the QR codes from June. 1.
However, while clubs can reopen legally, they can only operate until 12 a.m., as the CCSA still seems to believe Covid-19 only comes out after midnight.
As expected, the CCSA also released a silly list of unenforceable restrictions on bars supposedly open with no restrictions, including that all staff and entertainers have coronavirus-vaccine booster shots and have daily “risk screenings” and antigen tests weekly. Bars also must get the Thai Stop Covid 2+, Covid-Free Setting certifications.
In addition to the 14 new green zones, the CCSA also expanded the list of “blue” tourism zones to 17 from 12. The significance of blue zones remain that they are subject to lighter restrictions than their Covid-19 caseload would normally allow due to the fact they draw foreign visitors en masse.
The green zones are now Chainat, Trat, NakhonPhanom, Nan, Buri Ram, Phichit, Ang Thong, Mahasarakham, Yasothon, Lampang, SuratT hani, Surin, UdonThani and Amnat Charoen.
Blue zone provinces now include Krabi, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Chonburi (Pattaya), Chanthaburi, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, NakhonRatchasima, Nonthaburi, Narathiwat, PathumThani, PrachuapKhiri Khan, PhangNga, Phetchaburi, Phuket, Rayong and Songkhla.
The remaining provinces, all designated yellow zones, will remain under restrictions, including a ban on legally open bars. Gatherings are limited to 1,000 people. Indoor sporting events are limited to 75% capacity.
The national order keeping bars “closed” long ago became a farce, with nearly every bar in Thailand – from discos in Pattaya to topless bars on the infamous Soi Cowboy – already are open as “restaurants”, thanks to corruption and dodgy restaurant licenses.
Even midnight closing – which currently is the “law” in “blue” tourism provinces – is a joke, as clubs across Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya remain into the wee hours. Soi Cowboy bars, for example, are running to 2 a.m., Pattaya until 3:30 a.m. and Phuket until 4 a.m.
At this point, only the largest clubs in the country aren’t open, and even some of those planned to reopen this weekend, with or without the CCSA’s blessing.
Numerous plans had 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. Finally, the Public Health Ministry opted to bring back “green” zones – provinces where Covid-19 transmission is low – to designate areas where nightlife officially is allowed.
Lastly, the CCSA again extended the emergency decree until Jan. 31.
The original version of this story and updates were published in the Bangkok Herald, a Pattaya Mail partner. (Bangkok Herald)