BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand will allow night clubs and karaoke bars to resume regular hours starting in June, a senior official said on Friday, dropping most of its remaining pandemic restrictions as daily infections decline.
Thailand's nightlife is a major attraction for tourists, but most entertainment venues have been shuttered or faced a strict curfew since the pandemic began, with some bars forced to convert to restaurants to stay in business.
The government hopes the latest easing of restrictions will help revive the Southeast Asian country's battered tourism sector, a key growth engine that accounted for about 12% of the economy before the pandemic. Thailand is targeting 5 to 15 million arrivals this year.
"Entertainment venues, pubs, and massage parlours and others may open until midnight after June," said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's COVID-19 taskforce, told a news conference.
"These businesses should take a universal prevention approach ... staff must have received booster doses and take antigen tests every seven days," Taweesin added.
Starting June 1, Thailand will also drop a requirement for unvaccinated travellers to quarantine. They will either have to take an test on arrival or show a negative COVID-19 test before departure, he said.
From January to mid-May, Thailand received 1.01 million arrivals. There were 427,000 tourists for all of last year.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)