JUST like the old days. That was how revellers in Kuala Lumpur described the reopening of nightclubs and entertainment outlets on Saturday after being on the prohibited list of activities since the movement control order started on March 18, 2020.
A patron at Trec KL who wanted to be identified only as Joe, said he was happy and excited to be back on the dance floor after such a long hiatus.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Joe, giving the thumbs-up sign.
Wenn Tan, 34, a Singaporean who was in the city for a holiday, took the chance to extend her congratulations to the entertainment outlets on the first day of their reopening.
“I am happy for those who have managed to survive and can open so that people can finally have a place to chill, feel good and release their tension,” said Tan when met at one of the outlets at the entertainment hub.
With deejays and live bands allowed to perform again, dance floors pulsed with action. Long queues were seen outside many of the outlets as crowds of excited patrons waited to get in.
Though queues outside nightclubs are a norm as patrons need to have their identity cards checked and pay for cover charge, the long lines this time are also caused by the new requirement stipulated by the National Security Council (NSC) which was released on May 12.
As part of the new standard operating procedure, patrons of nightclubs and pubs must undergo an RTK-Antigen test 24 hours before turning up.
Premises operators must do the tests on their customers if they arrive without doing a self-test.
While some outlet owners are providing the test kits for free, others are imposing a fee, as much as RM10 for a test kit.
But eager patrons do not seem to mind this extra step, even if some deem it a hassle having to wait by the sidewalk for their results.
Nightclub owner Robert Khoo, in his early 40s, anticipated that his customers would require a proper place to do their RTK-Antigen tests. He set up a separate area, complete with bar tables and a dustbin for this purpose.
“I put up a handwritten sign in the area so that my customers will know that they can do their test here. I will be putting up a proper banner tomorrow,” said Khoo who has 25 years of experience in the entertainment business.
To fulfil the RTK-Antigen test requirement, outlet owners at Trec KL said they would stock up as many as 1,000 test kits per night.
Trec KL general manager Kelvin Lam said the management had extra stock in hand in case any of the outlets ran out of kits. “To shorten waiting time at the club entrances, we encourage patrons to either do the self-test at home 24 hours beforehand, bring the test result in a plastic bag for the outlet operator’s verification and show us the downloaded QR code,” suggested Lam.
The SOP also require patrons to mask up at all times, except during dining and dancing.
Meanwhile, Deepak Gill, marketing director and co-partner of Haba Restaurant and Cocktail Bar as well as Locker and Loft Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, took a more conservative stand on the reopening of nightclubs and entertainment outlets.“It is good news for those in the business as they have been suffering for two years. However, the outcome of the reopening has yet to be seen.
“I believe the lockdown has caused the entire nightlife scene and culture to change.
“People tend to come out less and seem to go home much earlier, it’s not the same anymore,” he told StarMetro.
The reopening of nightclubs also benefitted other industry players such as event organising companies.
Nightlife marketing platform ClublandKL founder Ehsan Tahmaseb said the reopening offered more opportunities for event companies that organise live performances and arts.
“It is a great thing that now there can be all sorts of shows with fewer restrictions, where buskers, bands, and deejays can play freely at restaurants and bars.
“But with this reopening, we feel it’s the responsibility of everyone in the nightlife industry to strive to keep everyone safe,” he said.
The complete list of the SOP for the nightlife sector is available on the NSC website.