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Thailand allows bars, pubs and karaoke clubs to reopen to woo back tourists

Thailand will allow bars, pubs and karaoke clubs to reopen in some regions from next month, ending a more than a year-long shutdown, as the tourism-reliant nation targets more travellers to bolster an economic recovery amid an easing Covid outbreak. Popular tourist destinations including Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chonburi are among 31 provinces classified as green and blue zones where pubs, bars and karaoke lounges can serve alcohol to patrons until midnight from June 1, Rachada Dhnadirek, a government spokeswoman, said on Twitter on Friday after a meeting of the nation’s virus task force chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. 

The gradual reopening of nightlife entertainment venues marks an end of some of the toughest pandemic-era restrictions and is seen as key to luring more foreign tourists in the June-September period, considered a low season for Thai tourism. The Southeast Asian nation has seen its omicron-fuelled Covid-19 wave ease in recent days with new daily cases averaging about 5,000 from a peak of almost 30,000 in early April. (Also Read: Thailand to attract more foreigners by promoting medical tourism post Covid-19)

“Improving Covid-19 infections and further easing demonstrate the government’s attempt to quickly bring back economic activities,” said Koraphat Vorachet, an analyst at Capital Nomura Securities Pcl. “What people are closely watching for is the quick recovery of overseas tourists and domestic spending” to spur the economy, he said.

Thailand expects tourist arrivals to more than triple to about 1 million a month from October as the nation rolls back most border controls. While the country has scrapped mandatory Covid testing and quarantine for vaccinated tourists, pre-arrival registration and insurance requirements are seen as deterrents with other tourism-reliant nations doing away with such restrictions.

The so-called Thailand Pass requirement for tourists will remain while it will be waived for Thai nationals returning to the country, according to Rachada. Unvaccinated foreign tourists who test negative in professionally-monitored rapid antigen tests on arrival will be able to skip quarantine, according to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the virus task force.

Nightlife venues must comply with the government’s Covid prevention protocols, and all employees must take a weekly rapid antigen test, Rachada said. The facilities should also refrain from holding promotional activities for alcoholic beverages, she said.

Foreign tourist arrivals topped 1 million this year through May 18 with the easing of travel curbs, Rachada said. The country received only 427,869 visitors last year, compared with almost 40 million in 2019, according to official data.   

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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