Policy about-turn queer pitch for HCMC bars, karaoke parlors

By Dat Nguyen, Dang Khoa   November 19, 2021 | 09:38 pm GMT+7
Policy about-turn queer pitch for HCMC bars, karaoke parlors
A bar is seen at Bui Vien Street, Ho Chi Minh City, November 19, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Khoa
HCMC’s recent decision to allow bars and karaoke parlors to reopen and reversing it in just two days has plunged owners and employees into fresh uncertainty and anxiety.

Lights went on late afternoon at the Volcano bar on Bui Vien Street in HCMC’s District 1 Thursday as employees prepared the facility to welcome customers.

They had no inkling that it would be their last day of operation after reopening just a day earlier.

"Policies keep changing, I don’t know how we are to do business," said Nguyen Thi Kim Hong, manager of the bar.

"I spent the whole day trying to recruit new employees as the old ones have quit. Now everything stops again."

Vu, a waiter, was hopeful of a return to normalcy a day earlier when the bar was packed with South Korean and young Vietnamese customers.

"But now, with the bar closed again, we’ll return to selling takeaway soft drinks and coffee again. Not sure if customers will come."

He wished he had stayed in the previous job of working as a delivery man.

The decision of HCMC authorities came as the city recorded 1,609 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, the highest in nearly six weeks, and 1,339 Friday.

Pham Duc Hai, deputy head of the city’s Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said that in recent days HCMC has seen the number of new Covid-19 patients entering hospitals exceeding those being discharged, and its daily death tally had not dropped.

"We can only open up when it is safe," he said at a press conference Thursday.

The sudden decision has imposed more difficulties on the city’s 680 karaoke and massage parlors, bars and night clubs that hd had been closed for around seven months.

Nguyen Van Thanh, manager of a karaoke parlor in District 10, said that the sudden policy change had caught him completely by surprise.

"It was light at the end of the tunnel when they announced that karaoke parlors could reopen. Now that the decision is changed, everything is dark again," said Thanh, who has been working as a shipper for the last few months so that his family could make ends meet.

The rapid change in regulation put him in a very difficult situation. Three employees have already prepared plans to return from their hometown, while fruits have been brought for serving to customers.

"I wish they had given us three or four more days to sell all the fruits. Now we don’t know how to deal with them."

He also said he was thinking about switching to another line of work.

In recent months, the popular nightlife street of Bui Vien had turned into a deserted area as bars switched to selling takeaway food and juices, or selling fresh vegetables and fruit.

"This whole road is now deserted. There is no customer," bar waitress Huong said.

Her bar has been selling bubble tea and snacks for several months now. Two days ago she and other employees bought extra ingredients to prepare for the return of customers.

But now that HCMC has overturned its decision, the food they bought has become redundant and once more, uncertainty stares them in the face.

"All residents here have been vaccinated. We feel safe, but we have almost run out of money."

 
 
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