Bangkok’s nightlife is one of the main reasons why many people travel to, and choose to live in, the city. Whether you enjoy fancy cocktails at a rooftop bar overlooking the vibrant city, theatrical entertainment, or underground clubbing, the Big Mango offers evening experiences that anyone can enjoy. In fact, Bangkok makes it onto the list of the world’s best party cities year after year, competing with famous contenders like Las Vegas and Ibiza.
Bars and nightclubs also contribute over USD $5.5 billion annually to the overall economy. However, the nightlife sector has been suffering since late March, when regulations went into effect to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. This article written by our friends from Pacific Prime Thailand takes a look at post-pandemic nightlife in Bangkok.
The return of Bangkok’s nightlife
July 1, 2020, marks the day that Bangkok’s nightlife leaps back into action. Following several months of restrictions, remaining entertainment facilities such as bars, pubs, karaoke bars, and nightclubs are finally allowed to reopen.
But nightlife won’t return to its pre-pandemic state just yet. The “new normal” comes with many rules, such as two-meter social distancing, no on-site promotions, and dancing restricted to table areas. Aside from ensuring that tables are at least two meters apart, they have to be separated by 1.5-meter barriers at a minimum as well.
In addition, venues must close at midnight since alcohol sales are not permitted after that time, even at late-night eateries like the ever-popular congee shops. Nightlife venue employees won’t be able to sit, dance, or sing with customers, of which up to five are allowed per table. All venues are required to have CCTV cameras monitoring all areas as well.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin also said that alcohol should not be sold in shared containers, including buckets, jugs, and towers. What’s more, venues that reopen will have to use the “Thai Chana” app, which was created to alert customers and businesses to any COVID-19 outbreak. As many are already familiar with, the Thai Chana platform requires customers to check in and out when entering or leaving premises.
The decision to allow the remaining businesses to reopen was made following over a month of no local infections recorded in the country. Restrictions were previously lifted on restaurants, malls, schools, and many sports activities, with body temperature checks and social distancing enforcements.
A cautious reopening
Recovery takes more than just implementing social distancing measures. Seoul experienced this first hand when bars and clubs in South Korea were allowed to reopen on May 6. The venues, which had been closed since March 22, were given permission to reopen once the number of daily confirmed cases reached single figures. However, a spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea linked to reopened nightclubs resulted in a second closure.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) advised people to avoid social gatherings or visiting any crowded, confined, or enclosed spaces that are frequented by many people. The Seoul nightclub reopening shows how quickly infection rates can spiral. Sadly, it is a shock to the on-trade sector, which is more desperate for business than ever.
Another challenge that the on-trade sector must face once venues are up and running again is regaining consumer confidence, as many consumers will be hesitant to visit them. Even though eating and drinking out used to be a fundamental part of daily life, people will likely be more apprehensive when it comes to going out. On top of that, those who do want to go out again may be deterred by the new rules and necessary precautions.
Smaller venues could also find it quite challenging to implement social distancing. People often walk around and interact with one another, which is no longer possible as per the new rules. Perhaps one of the most important safety measures that venues can take is to ensure that guests’ temperatures are checked upon arrival and to make disinfectants accessible to customers. Along with wearing face masks, staff should also practice other hygiene measures such as proper handwashing at regular intervals.
While these measures may seem extreme, the collective effort of customers, staff, and businesses can be the difference between further easing of restrictions or another pause on recovery.
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