No fear of Delta as people party away in large numbers mask less in Pubs and Karaokes in Thimphu

Despite the various relaxations after the second dose, the government has been requesting people to maintain social distancing, avoid crowding, ensure ventilation and to wear masks, however, all of the above rules are being violated in various Karaoke Pubs and Pubs in Thimphu.

The Bhutanese received two videos of large numbers of youth without masks partying and dancing away in close proximity in Thimphu.

The first video was in the pub of a five-star hotel in Thimphu this month and the more recent one is during blessed rainy day in a Karaoke Pub.

The person who made the videos is ironically an owner of a disco which is currently shut as all discos are not deemed safe enough to open.

He said that it is not just the above two premises but there are many karaokes who conduct literal disco parties inside.

With all the discotheques being closed in the city, the club owner said he does not understand the government’s decision on not allowing discotheques to operate when karaokes and pubs are already acting like discos.

He said that discos have to pay rent too and the same rule should be allowed for all or no exceptions should be made.

He said that what encourages such activity is also the fact that the police and the Dessups are not patrolling heavily like before and so such venues get away.

After the announcement of reopening of karaoke in the country, these spots are filled with people without masks, breaching the basic COVID-19 protocols, despite repetitive advice and advocacy on mass gathering.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said the prevention of COVID-19 and community outbreak in the country is the collective responsibility of the people.

She said individual institutions must take this responsibility seriously as there are still risks, so every individual must take these preventive measures very seriously.

“We cannot afford to have another lockdown, I think at an individual level, at the community level and at the private sector level, they must take this responsibility seriously. We have children who are unvaccinated and we have already seen an outbreak among children globally and children are on ventilators. We must question, do we want the same for our children? If we don’t want the same for our children then we must be responsible with our actions,” said the health minister.

She said the biggest consequence of ignoring the preventive measure, now is that when there is an outbreak, there will be lockdown which means it inconveniences everybody. So just because few people are not following their protocol, everybody has to bear the consequences and that is morally wrong.

The health minister shared that the ministry has been getting complaints on mass gathering in the city, but it is difficult to monitor each and every entity every time. “I think we have grown a lot in the past two years. Now it is high time that we must take personal responsibility.”

An official from the Royal Bhutan Police said the police team has been patrolling the Thimphu city more strictly than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The official said they are ensuring that the public must abide with COVID-19 protocols.

“People should know and it is high time to understand the situation. Every owner and customers’ responsibility is to follow the protocols and they are supposed to restrict the crowded places but people are still moving,” said the RBP official.

“Upon asking whether they have organized a party, they would always say, the customers are their daily customers and people are seen wearing masks. So it is quite difficult to deal with such a situation,” said the officer.

The National COVID-19 Taskforce had said that the existing business operation time is extended from 9pm to 10pm for low risk areas and the business outlets are reminded to maintain the highest level of COVID-19 protocols. However, everyone must practice the crowd size of 25 or 50 percent, whichever is minimum.

The taskforce had urged everyone to observe basic COVID-19 health instructions of wearing masks, hand washing and avoiding crowds with sincerity and diligence. It had said that with the emergence of newer viral variants, each more aggressive than the other, this is not the time to let down the guard.  

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