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Sr. correspondent at Republica.
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Enjoy responsibly, take precautions and avoid COVID-19 infection
Everyone wants to have some fun after a hectic weekday. Chilling at night with some good food, music and friends is what one needs for days ahead during the weekends. And in that sense, the night life with pubs, bars, discotheques and restaurants open for 24 hours used to be hip and happening, before the pandemic.
However, the need to be isolated and maintain distance became one of the best solutions for the threatening COVID-19; like everything in the world got halted, night life too was affected everywhere.
Current scenario of Thamel’s nightlife
Now after the vaccination program and the prohibition have been lifted, gradually, Kathmandu’s nightlife is gathering pace. “After the prohibition was lifted and with the ongoing vaccination program, 90 percent of Thamel’s nightlife has become normalized. Recently, the government has given approval to open the service till 4AM. I am hopeful that gradually the loss that we faced in one and A half years will surely be covered up,” shared Rabin Shrestha, CEO/Founder of Lord of the Drinks-LOD.
For musicians like Abhishek Shrestha, who is the lead vocalist/guitarist for the band Magic Mushroom, the pandemic has definitely affected them financially. According to him there are fewer gigs than there used to be and he too agrees with Rabin that the nightlife is slowly getting alive. He shared, “I am a teacher for a Hotel Management student and music is my passion which also provides me with some pocket money. It has been three years since I have been performing in a band in night clubs in the Valley and sometimes outside the Valley.”
Saying that night life is all about getting free from stress and enjoying the free time, he added, “We do use precautions such as sanitizing ourselves and maintaining our distance from the crowd while performing. And in around three months, the flow of people in clubs has increased.”
Challenges and opportunities in terms of employment
About the challenges of running nightlife business ventures in the entertainment field, Dwang Tamang, coordinator of Night Life Association in Thamel who also runs four different ventures in Thamel, shared, “We always have to stage protests in front of the government bodies to fully operate our services. We were allowed to open till 12AM which was extended after the protest to 2AM after the second prohibition was lifted.
Meanwhile, we again protested to extend the time and now it’s only three weeks that we were allowed to open till 4AM. Do we always have to stage a protest to get our rights? We have been paying our tax, vat and entertainment royalty to the government but the government has not provided us any relief during this challenging situation.”
About the employment scenario in Thamel, he added, “According to Thamel Tourism Development Council, a total of 14,715 people are employed in around 200 businesses in Thamel that covers five wards —1, 16, 17, 27 and 26 — in Thamel and Durbar Marg areas. Businesses that operate during night have the capacity of providing employment opportunities to more than 50,000, if the government permits to run the business 24 hours like before the pandemic, in Nepal.”
A waiter of a popular club in Thamel shared, “My actual salary is around Rs 8,000 per month. Meanwhile, after getting my share from service charge and tips, I earned around Rs 25,000 per month before the pandemic.” LOD has currently given employment to 150 people and there are 200 staff at Tamang’s venture.
Risk of COVID-19
The risk of the coronavirus still lurks around and it would be stupid to completely ignore the current pandemic scenario and be careless.
About the current status of the coronavirus and vaccination for youngsters, Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku said, “Since the government has begun to vaccinate people above 18 years of age, till now 35 percent of youths have been vaccinated and the government has plans to vaccinate the remaining 65 percent of youngsters.”
Dr Pun added, “After the second wave of COVID-19, immunization in people has also increased and the virus’s variant has not changed at present, though there are chances that the data about infection may vary from time to time. At the least, there is less risk of death due to COVID-19 in comparison to the previous scenario.”
On October 31, Nepal recorded 408 new cases of COVID-19 along with 518 recoveries and eight deaths, according to the information released by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).
However, Dr Pun suggested taking precautions and being responsible during the pandemic because the risk of getting infected is still around