Bar girl Som has been affected as everyone by the covid 19 outbreak and subsequent restriction on nightlife activity such as bars in Pattaya. Som worked in a popular walking Street agogo bar for around 2 years.
We spoke to Som, this is an edited transcript of the interview.
Soi6: hi Som where are you now?
Som: at home in Nakhon Sawan with mama (she means house on the farm)
Soi6: and what are you doing for work?
Som: freelance work for farmer (working in the fields planting and collecting the crop) .
Soi6: what is that like?
Som: is very hot and afterward my whole body has big pain !!
Soi6: do you know when you will go back to Pattaya? When will the bar open
Som: if the bar can open I will go
Soi6: you will go right away? Back to Pattaya
Som: yes, I want to work and now have nothing
Soi6: how about your friends? What are they doing now
Som: I have only 1 friend from the bar she stay Nakhon Sawan same as me now no working
Soi6: thank you Som take care
Som: take care naka
Som spends her time sleeping, playing RoV ( a mobile game) and posting to her social media. She does not have any children.
This short conversation illustrates the difficulties with maintaining control over the virus as potentially a large number of workers from the outlying provinces could travel back to their tourism related jobs in cities like Pattaya and Bangkok. Healthcare in rural areas is not the best and it is questionable how much testing has been done in villages.
So the question of whether it is safe to travel to Pattaya , even if the restrictions are lifted remains open to be seen.
Even as the curfew in Bangkok is lifted there is no guarantee that the government will restore clubs and bars to regular operation. The military government is facing a dilemma as they are philosophically conservative and against nightlife activity, but on the other hand they know that many people have lost jobs and this can generate unrest. The state of emergency will last until at least the end of June.
Domestic air travel is opening up also but international travel is unlikely in the near future. Tickets are able to be booked through airlines for months beginning October but there’s is no guarantee that quarantine will be lifted by then.
The Indonesian Island of Bali aims to reopen by July which sets a benchmark for other popular tourists spots in South East Asia. Everyone knows that tourist dollars are at stake so it’s possible that we could see a race of who can open first. It would be fantastic if Thailand can reopen to visitors.
The problem would be that on returning home you may face quarantine if you home country thinks that Thailand has not eliminated the virus. Which means your planned holiday could become more expensive.
Obviously due to the intimate contact in some bars it would be preferable that Thailand is able to eliminate the virus completely before tourism is restored. Social standing and masks would take a lot out of the Pattaya experience.