Bangkok faces 3rd nightlife shutdown after COVID hits Thonglor, Ekkamai

Photo: Krystal Club Thonglor25/ Facebook
Photo: Krystal Club Thonglor25/ Facebook

Update: While no shutdown orders were issued Monday, the national COVID task force proposed new specific guidelines that would close any place where a COVID case is found for 14 days, with wider areas, such as all of Thonglor, closed for the same time if the disease is found at multiple venues.

The head of Thailand’s alcohol sellers association said this morning he wouldn’t be surprised if health officials again close Bangkok’s pubs and clubs after dozens of new COVID-19 infections were found in the heart of the downtown nightlife scene.

Owners and consumers likely face a third shutdown if health officials follow their own rules, said Thanakorn Kuptaijit, president of Alcoholic Beverage Business Association, after at least 45 COVID-19 cases were found centered around the Ekkamai and Thonglor nightlife areas.

“When they discover COVID-19 such as at markets or any venues, it’s normal to shut down the places. It’s very likely that they will do the same for these pubs,” he said.

A City Hall representative reached by phone this morning said no decision had yet been made on whether to order a third shutdown. On Sunday, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said anyone who had been to such venues downtown since mid-March should get tested for COVID-19, which is free for anyone who came into possible contact with the virus.

According to test results, at least 21 people were infected in recent weeks at the Krystal Club nightclub in Soi Thonglor 25 and five at the Barbarbar pub in Soi Thonglor 10. Calls to Krystal Club on Monday morning were not answered.

The surge of cases had gone unnoticed until some time after a group of musicians sought medical attention after becoming symptomatic on March 13. The five musicians reportedly traveled throughout the metropolitan area performing at bars and venues in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Pathom provinces.  

We assume that it started at an entertainment venue in Pathum Thani where Thammasat students go,” said Opas Karnkawinpong, director of the Disease Control Department, adding that they were awaiting tests to determine if it was linked to last month’s outbreak at Bangkok’s Bang Khae Market.

Health officials polled those who had taken ill on their whereabouts to find out where else they had visited. Eight said they had also visited Ekkamai Beer House, and one had gone to The Cassette Music Bar on Soi Ekkamai 10.

The Cassette Music Bar announced Sunday that it would be closed for disinfection, though it had not been informed who had visited the venue and when.

“Even now we’re not contacted by the government officials to confirm any details, nor could we determine the identities of those people who infected and visited our place,” the bar wrote online. “However, for the public’s happiness and safety, we’ll close our venue for disinfection from April 4 onward until we get the facts.”

Three people went to a venue outside of downtown – the Baan Phahon Cafe and Bar in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district.

Two others reportedly visited unidentified venues inside the EmQuartier and Emporium shopping malls.

City Hall encouraged anyone who has visited these venues to notify health authorities via hotlines 02-203-2393 or 02-203-2396.

Thailand on Sunday reported 96 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload since January 2020 to 29,127. The death toll stands at 95.

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