Goodbye for now: bars shut down with return uncertain
Dancers carried bags and hugged friends goodbye. Wide-eyed tourists wandered aimlessly. And bar owners cried into their 7-Eleven beers as Walking Street turned off the lights for at least two weeks as Pattaya combats the coronavirus.
Chonburi Gov. Phakhathorn Thienchai on March 18 signed the order shutting down the province’s bars, pubs, massage parlors, stadiums and other entertainment venues. In the eyes of Pattaya beer and go-go bar owners, he might as well have been signing their death warrants.
Reeling since the emergence of Covid-19 in China in January and Beijing’s subsequent banning of overseas tours to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Pattaya saw the last nail hammered into the coffin of this year’s high season with Wednesday’s order.
While bar owners grudgingly agreed the move was necessary as the virus takes hold in Thailand – there are now nearly 200 reported cases – it didn’t make it any easier to swallow.
Bar owners surveyed said they wanted the government to take strong action to wipe out Covid-19 in Thailand and conduct more high-profile cleaning exercises so tourists will feel safe and come back as soon as possible.