COVID tests and groceries required
Due to police corruption and an economic dependency on the Vietnam War, prostitution remains high in the country. They usually come from poverty, low levels of education, lack of local labor force, rural backgrounds and mostly from the Isaan/Northeast, ethnic minorities or from neighboring countries, especially Myanmar and Laos.
Working in the bars of the red light district pays more than many clerical jobs or other service jobs that the women and men in Thailand’s sex industry would otherwise qualify for. Sex work has enabled them to save money, buy luxury items, and support their parents and grandparents in retirement.
But now the international sex industry has come to a standstill.
According to government data provided by Dr. Yongyuth Chalamwong, research director of the Thailand Development Research Institute, estimated that 1.6 million people have returned to the countryside from Thailand’s tourist areas. Those who have found a way to stay — by piling up in shared rented rooms, sleeping in the hallway, and cutting back their meals to one or two a day — are struggling to keep up.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, that part of the travel and tourism business had been wiped out.
The black leather party masks that performers wear for their fetish shows in Bangkok are definitely not the kind to stop the coronavirus. Artists fear the city’s notorious Patpong red-light district could look very different if COVID-19 allows it to reopen.
With restaurants closing at 9pm in Bangkok or 11pm in Pattaya, bar girls and bar boys arrive in small numbers to work as waitresses or waiters in restaurants that used to be nightclubs.
Thanks to lenient enforcement and legally operated restaurants, those seeking sex workers can find them in such restaurants. According to a local newspaper report, only the biggest clubs in Pattaya are being fined and regulations to protect against COVID-19 are often turned into a farce.
There is no social distancing sex yet, so visitors and workers in these restaurants must take a coronavirus antigen test before entering.
Damrongkiat Pinitkan, secretary of the Pattaya Entertainment and Tourism Association, told the Pattaya Mail that the restaurant gap has welcomed news for bar employees and visitors. Restaurants in Pattaya are now allowed to serve alcohol again until 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, Bangkok’s famous Patpong tends to stay calm and dry. The LGBT bar scene is gone and tourism to Amazing Thailand for those looking for that extra bit of fun, entertainment or a happy Thai massage can become the fun of a distant past.