Bangkok and Pattaya nightlife is world-famous and millions of tourists come to Thailand specifically for the nightlife and the weather. But with the current virus shutdown, the nightlife venues are all closed and Thailand sex workers are especially hard hit with their incomes going to zero rather quickly. And with many of these women never learning to manage their finances makes it even more difficult as most have very little or no savings left anymore after almost 2 months of the shutdown
One of the sex workers Ann said she hasn’t had any income for almost 2 months now since Pattaya’s night venues including The Walking street where she worked has been ordered by the government to shut down to contain the virus outbreak. She had already spent almost all of her savings with just a few thousand baht left.
“She used to charge 2,000 THB for a “short time” which is usually about two hours and 5,000 THB for “long time” which meant staying with her customer overnight or during the day. Now she complains there is no way to meet new or old customers with the bars closed and also meeting Thai dating sites have run out for her as there are almost no western tourists left in the country.
Ann is just one of an estimated 100,000 sex workers in Thailand who are among the hardest hit by the business and airport closures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. And since their work is not legitimate under Thai law despite being very well known by everyone in Thailand she is not eligible for the 5,000 THB per month government compensation plan.
NGOs that assist sex workers in Bangkok in Pattaya have warned that the lock-down could prove to be a big issue and ultimately a disaster for thousands of people working in the Thai sex tourism industry.
Only in Pattaya, it is estimated that there are about 50,000 sex workers who are now out of work and with no income at all since the government has shut down the nightlife venues and started enforcing a 10 pm to 4 am curfew nationwide.
Ann the sex worker that has been interviewed said that she does not wish to return to her home town due to the stigma associated with sex work plus the current view of many of the rural people that people from the big cities and tourist destinations are infected with the corona virus. Even in Pattaya sex workers reported experiencing problems as people believe they might be infected because of contact with the tourists.
Ann tried to get the 5,000 THB per month Goverment assistance but a the end failed as she is working in the sex industry which at the end is illegal.
Nana plaza, Soi cowboy, Patpong and Soi Thanya all went dark and silentafter the shut down on March 17th 2020.
Some of the venues still pay their staff full or lowered wages for March and April but with no business at all for 2 months it is getting harder and harder to continue bleeding money.
The few sex workers that still can find some work as “freelancers” are also very worried for their future and their safety and potential exposure to a Covid 19 positive customer.
Even if all the nightlife venues open in the next month or two it will take a very long time for tourists to start coming back and start enjoying the nightlife again as it is possible that they might face quarantine or self-isolation orders on arrival to Thailand. While the situation is improving all over the world and the Thai Government is slowly easing the restrictions it will take a while for tourists to come back and even longer time for them to come in the same numbers as before this world pandemic.
When the night life opens soon i bet the first customers will be the foreigners stuck in Thailand as their visas have now been auto extended to July 31st 2020 so they can start enjoying the party before all the others.