Some Yangon bars vow to defy shutdown order amid 2nd-wave angst

A number of Yangon’s nightlife proprietors have quietly vowed to remain open despite a new order that all bars, clubs and karaoke venues nationwide close again in the face of rising coronavirus cases, including those involving local transmission.

Framed as a precautionary measure, the order from the Disease Control Unit in Yangon is effective immediately. Naing Ngan Lin, chairman of the unit’s Central Committee, warned that businesses which flout the order will be shut down.

“We didn’t really give an order to reopen all the businesses although bars and clubs from Yangon and Mandalay regions do now,” he said. “We also warned them how we can take action about it. We will take it seriously from now on.”

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But that hasn’t deterred some owners from saying they will stay open regardless.

“I wont close until they come and make me,” one wrote in an online forum.

Although the order was dated this past weekend, it wasn’t publicized and bars and nightclubs in Yangon have remained open through today. One bar manager who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal said his business and patrons are paying the price for something they didn’t do.

“This is so frustrating. It is because of traveling, not drinking a beer at a bar,” he said. “If they are ordering us to close our businesses again, they should do the same to buses and travelers abroad.”

The Ministry of Health also reported 15 new cases last night; 14 quarantined returnees from India and 1 from the Philippines. More worrying, two family members of case No. 375 also reported positive for the virus, and fears became more intense when it was revealed that the woman’s mother, case No. 378, traveled to Yangon for a hospital visit. At least 15 individuals who came into contact with her were placed under quarantine last night.

Streets where the family live in Sittwe city, the capital of Rakhine state, have been sealed off.

The entire capital was later placed on lockdown amid a surge of new cases, with 33 new cases, mostly in Sittwe, reported Friday morning, making for a total of 409 infections since the pandemic was first detected in March.

That’s where bank employee Ye Ye Win, who was diagnosed Sunday with COVID-19, lived with her family.

Additional travel restrictions are in place as well. Travelers coming to Yangon from Sittwe will be quarantined 21 days and tested twice, according to Naing Ngan Lin.

Update: This story has been updated with additional information on new COVID-19 cases.


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