Bars reopen in Thailand as virus restrictions eased
Bars and pubs opened across Thailand on Wednesday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began in the country in mid-March.
Restaurants were permitted to resume alcohol sales more than two weeks ago, but bars and pubs were excluded, much to the frustration of owners.
At 72 Courtyard, a collection of open-air bars in Bangkok's trendy Thong Lor area, long-parched punters braved the drizzle to enjoy what some said felt like a resumption of their old social lives – even if they had to go through a temperature check at the entrance, first.
Bars are meant to observe social distancing, with a meter between customers and four square meters of space per person, as well as tables required to be two meters apart.
Adherence to the rules appeared lax on Wednesday, but the military supreme commander, designated by the Prime Minister to inspect establishments, seemed satisfied that all was in order.
"What the Prime Minister wants is to restart the economy and people's livelihood can return to normal, but the most important thing is still safety of the people," General Pornpipat Benyasiri told reporters.
In addition to bars, massage parlors were also able to welcome customers again from Wednesday.
Thailand is also allowing foreign visitors in on a controlled basis, limiting entry to those with existing family or work ties to the country, students, technical experts for businesses, investors and specially invited VIPs.