APRIL 11 — The other day my friends and I were discussing why night-clubs remain closed.
April 1st has come and gone, the country is transitioning into the endemic phase and practically every sector is open with minimal restrictions. Except nightclubs.
This is a multi million-ringgit question; that’s roughly what this sector generated before the pandemic. Imagine just how much the government, in turn, earned in taxes.
The government has said that it “considers them high-risk for Covid-19 transmission.” Some of my friends argued that nightclubs are confined areas, usually packed with too many people and nightclubs have poor ventilation.
These are good presenting reasons. Nevertheless, the more you push the issue, it soon becomes clear that from a public health perspective, the argument is anything but airtight.
As with various houses of worship, gyms, football matches, MRT carriages and even malls, the government can easily limit the number of customers allowed into night-clubs at any one time.
Apart from any data proving that nightclubs have the worst ventilation in the country, it’s unlikely this is a strong point as many restaurants, buses, offices etc also have questionable ventilation.
One also wonders why the authorities do not simply enforce good levels of ventilation and be done with it.
Finally, if the objection to reopening nightclubs is physical contact, one would think that limiting the number of people and ensuring that only vaccinated guests can enter, should do the trick.
Also, it makes you wonder about reflexology centres, dance classes, contact sports, etc. — how come those are allowed?
It would appear, therefore, that there are “unspoken” reasons why nightclubs remained closed. These probably have to do with the possibility, potential or prevalence of vice activities happening in such places.
This is an absolutely valid concern. We’ve all read about and seen enough articles to know that such activities are always associated with nightclubs.
As the government is responsible for monitoring and curbing illegal goings-on, I suppose I wouldn’t blame them for, well, using whatever reason or justification they can to control such problems.
Nevertheless I can’t help but ask if — instead of punishing the entire sector — wouldn’t it be fairer for the police to permanently close down the outlets guilty of such crimes?
To dispense with the entire sector sounds a bit like collective punishment when, as with most sectors, the culprits are usually a minority.
I reckon that nightclubs could be given the same sort of treatment as reflexology and wellness centres. We don’t shut the entire industry down, merely those offering dodgy extra services.
The point is we need not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Night-clubs, notwithstanding their iffy reputations, do offer entertainment comparable to post-wedding dinner celebrations.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.