Hotels, karaoke venues and massage parlors have been ordered to close by local authorities in the eastern Shan State town of Tachileik, after the town’s “entertainment” industry was linked to the regional spread COVID-19 that has also reached neighboring Thailand.
A total of 56 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Tachileik in recent days, as well as at least 11 in Thailand, after 10 Thai employees of Tachileik’s 1G1-7 Hotel crossed back into their home country illegally in late November, bypassing the required testing and quarantine. All 10 of the women later tested positive for COVID-19, and hundreds of people have been ordered to self-quarantine in Thailand after coming into contact with them.
“Local authorities had already ordered the hotel to close, but they secretly kept the hotel operating anyway. That’s why it happened,” Sai Noom, a Tachileik business owner, told SHAN of the 1G1-7, adding that “the whole town is afraid” of the virus.
It remains unclear how the hotel was able to continue operations amid the pandemic.
Coconuts Bangkok described the venue as a “hotel-brothel” frequented by Burmese military personnel in a December 4 report on the recent COVID-19 infections identified in Thailand. SHAN was not able to independently confirm information about the hotel’s clientele or the nature of their business.
After the new Thai cases were tied to the Tachileik hotel, the town’s local authorities opened a legal case against the 1G1-7 Hotel’s management on November 29 for violating local orders to close.
“We are prosecuting the hotel manager for breaking the local order. He is charged with violating the Natural Disaster Management Law,” Chan Myae Saw, a General Administration Department officer for Tachileik Township, told SHAN.
He added that nine wards and two hotels were under lockdown in the town and that security had been tightened along the river separating Tachileik in Shan State from Mae Sai in Thailand in order to deter and stop illegal border crossings.
More cases of the coronavirus have also been confirmed in three other eastern Shan State townships: three in Mong Hpyat, one in Kengtung and one in Mong Pyin.
“We cannot go out of our homes. We cannot go to work. We are struggling for food,” a woman living in Tachileik told SHAN, adding, “No one wants to be in this type of critical situation.”