Operators of night entertainment hangouts have welcomed a promise by the business lockdown-easing committee that pubs, bars, karaoke parlours and other entertainment venues will be allowed to reopen in the fifth phase of loosening the Covid-19 restrictions expected in July.
The promise was made during talks yesterday between Gen Natthaphol Nakpanich, deputy army chief and a deputy chairman of the committee, and nightlife venue operators.
However, it still needs endorsement by a full-fledged meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situaton Adminstration (CCSA) meeting on Friday.
It remains unclear whether the reopening will include wet massage parlours.
Musicians and entertainers made an emotional appeal last Thursday to the government to allow them to get back to work as the long closure had put them in dire financial straits.
Gen Natthaphol said he will recommend at Friday’s meeting that they be allowed to get back to work, but stressed the need for proper measures to prevent Covid-19 from rebounding.
“The fifth stage of easing restrictions will take place, with or without the extension of the emergency decree for another month,” Gen Natthaphol said.
“If the emergency decree is lifted, all closure orders will automatically end.”
The emergency decree will stay in place at least until the end of this month and it can be extended by the centre if authorities remain worried about the Covid-19 outbreak.
Thailand has recorded no new local transmissions for 27 days, with recent cases imported by Thais returning to the country.
Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Business Association and CEO of Buddy Group, said all participants at yesterday’s meeting were satisfied with the outcome and expected to go back to work on July 1.
Mr Sanga said it was also good news for owners of entertainment venues as it meant their businesses will soon reopen and they will gain some liquidity to stay afloat. This would enable them to pay for their premises and support their staff.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has hit us terribly. We are desperate for the government to ease restrictions. We still have to pay for rent, utilities, accommodation and food for staff. We don’t want to abandon our employees,” he said.
Nightlife operators have prepared plans to prevent virus transmissions based on the guidelines of the Public Health Ministry, he added.
Mr Sanga said he believed the situation in Thailand is now safe enough for nightspots to reopen as there has not been a single locally transmitted case of Covid-19 for 27 days.
“I think the pandemic is now under control in Thailand.
“We’re ready to reopen and willing to follow CCSA’s guidelines to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. Customers’ temperatures will be checked before entry, there will be hand sanitiser on tables and so on,” he said.
Mr Sanga also urged the CCSA to allow live music performances at entertainment venues as it would help musicians across Thailand to earn a living.
“There are over 100,000 self-employed musicians who are struggling to survive because they can’t work,” he said.
“They have no income for three months. If they are still not allowed to work in pubs and restaurants, there should be measures from the government to help relieve their financial burden.”
Buppha, who owns a pub in the Khao San area, said she was happy to hear about the easing of the restrictions, though she wanted a clear message on when entertainment businesses will be allowed to reopen and what guidelines they have to follow.