Yangon’s bars are finding creative ways to skirt a new shutdown order issued last week in response to snowballing COVID-19 cases.
Some unhappy proprietors already reeling from the year’s losses have found a simple solution: drop the word “bar.” Photos of their efforts – achieved by covering or removing the word from their signs – have been spread gleefully online since yesterday.
One famous bar with four outlets in Yangon’s Sanchaung Township shortened its name from Kosan Bar & Kitchen to the law-abiding “Kosan Kitchen.” One eagle-eyed observer found how the radical rebranding was achieved – with tape. It appears to have later been removed entirely.
Next door, Freedom Restaurant still brags that it is the “only gay place in town” but has similarly erased any claim to being a bar – at least from its sign.
“Really?” Facebooker Berry Linn responded to a photo of the revisionist work.
Over in Botahtaung, the Havana Social Club yesterday rebranded itself the “Havana Latin Restaurant & Dance Club.”
And they are not alone. Most Yangon bars appear to be defying the shutdown order to remain open without any evidence of consequences. This despite the virus already having landed in the city via a traveller from Sittwe, who has been quarantined at a facility unit in Hlaing Township. Health officials reported another 11 new infections last night, including a 23-year-old girl in Yangon’s Kamayut Township.
The ministry has also reported that the virus now in play is spreading at a rate 10 times faster than before. Myanmar has now counted 474 infections and six deaths nationwide.
But the authorities may have the last laugh after all. Responding to the shenanigans, officials came to the street and told all the venues that if they’re going to masquerade as restaurants, they would have to act like them and close early.
“Thanks to them, we now have to operate 2pm to 10pm, at the latest,” a worker at another venue in the same street who identified himself only as Swan told Coconuts Yangon. “The order to do so just came once the authorities saw they removed the word ‘bar.’ And there’s no certainty to anything. Next time, we might have to shut down once they say so.”