Thailand will allow bars, pubs, and karaoke clubs to reopen in some areas beginning next month, ending a more than a year-long closure, as the tourism-dependent country seeks to attract more visitors as the Covid outbreak eases. Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Chonburi are among 31 provinces designated as green and blue zones, allowing pubs, bars, and karaoke lounges to serve alcohol until midnight beginning June 1, according to Rachada Dhnadirek, a government spokeswoman, after a meeting of the nation’s virus task force chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, reports Bloomberg.
The gradual reopening of nightlife entertainment places marks the end of some of the most severe pandemic-era restrictions and is seen as critical to attracting more foreign tourists during the low season for Thai tourism, which runs from June to September. The omicron-fueled Covid-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia has subsided in recent days, with new daily cases averaging around 5,000, down from around 30,000 in early April.
“The government’s attempt to quickly restore economic activity is demonstrated by improving Covid-19 infections and additional easing,” said Koraphat Vorachet, an analyst at Capital Nomura Securities Pcl. “What people are looking for is a speedy rebound of overseas tourists and local spending,” he said, to help the economy.
Thailand anticipates visitor numbers to more than quadruple to almost 1 million per month starting in October, as most border controls are lifted. While the country has eliminated required Covid testing and quarantine for vaccinated visitors, pre-arrival registration and insurance requirements are considered as deterrents, with other tourism-dependent countries removing such requirements.
According to Rachada, the so-called Thailand Pass requirement for tourists will stay in place, while it will be eliminated for Thai nationals returning to the country. According to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokeswoman for the viral task force, unvaccinated international tourists who test negative in professionally-monitored quick antigen tests on arrival will be entitled to bypass confinement.
According to Rachada, nightclubs must follow the government’s Covid prevention guidelines, and all personnel must do a weekly quick antigen test. She also suggested that the establishments avoid organizing promotional events for alcoholic beverages.
With the loosening of travel restrictions, foreign tourist arrivals surpassed 1 million until May 18, according to Rachada. According to official figures, the country attracted only 427,869 tourists last year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019.