Thukten Zangpo

Despite the government’s directive not to open the entertainment centres, some entertainment centres are found operating.

This has confused many entertainment centre owners, who claimed that whether there are two laws in the country.

A karaoke bar owner said that entertainment hubs have been closed for more than a year and there is no news of opening it even after the second vaccination.

She said while most owners have sincerely complied with the policy, she found out that only small business owners were following it. “dusitD2 Yarkay organized disco party on August 12 and the hall was filled with people.”

She also said the same hotel organised another party last weekend. “But no one is monitoring. There is a disparity between low and high-income group.”

Another karaoke owner in Thimphu said that he attended disco parties at dusitD2 Yarkay twice and saw a huge crowd.

He said the party was organised every Saturday and it opens by 6pm and closes by 9pm. “There was no police or desuups patrolling when the party was ongoing.”

The vice president of Karaoke Association of Bhutan (KAB), Tshering Choden, said that when she inquired police patrolling team if entertainment centres are allowed to open or not, they told her they do not have any information.

The president of KAB, Namgyel Tshering, said they are waiting for the government’s directives to reopen. “Other businesses have returned to normal.”

He said the government directed the owners of the karaoke bars, drayangs or party halls to operate as a bar and not as they usually operate. “Some are operating and there are no directives from the government to open.”

He said that he has conveyed to the operators that the association will not consider if anyone breaches the protocol.

Namgyel Tshering said that Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has assured to allow karaoke bars to open after the second dose for children with additional two weeks of cooling period. “Owners will follow Covid-19 norms with 50 percent of customers’ capacity and use of sanitisers.”

dusitD2 Yarkay was not available for the comments.

Thimphu police said that karaoke bars and parties are not allowed, and police have not caught anyone operating while patrolling.

“We do get complaints of karaoke bars operating, but when we reach the centres, we find the usual bar scenario with soft music playing in the background,” a police officer said.

An official from PMO said police and desuups are patrolling and ensuring covid-19 norms are followed.

A press release from PMO dated August 30 states that the government will review the protocols to open the entertainment centres after vaccination of children in mid-September.  

It also states the government will reinforce the monitoring on the ground and ask the Ministry of Economic Affairs to deal with the business operators who breach the protocols.

“The threat from Covid-19 remains. With countries experiencing viral variance on one hand and breakthrough infections among vaccinated on the other, uncertainty looms. Now is time to be more careful and not compromise on basic compliance,” the official from the PMO said.

There are about 45 karaoke bars in Thimphu registered with the KAB.

Edited by Tashi Dema