Thai cops busted a virtual strip club with sex workers selling online drinks to tourists stuck at home during the pandemic
The semi-clad women used to make hundreds of pounds a night in tips working in the country’s notorious ‘Sin City’ sex capital resort of Pattaya.
However, the spread of Covid-19 cases, which started last March, has obliterated tourism and government health restrictions have forced the seedy bars to close.
Entrepreneurial girls took to video site YouTube to start earning money, with customers from around the world and many in Britain, the US, Australia and Europe, desperate to return to the notorious nightlife area paying them 150 Baht a time for virtual lady drinks to watch them dance.
Furious cops were alerted to the online bars and on Wednesday (June 23) raided a rented house with 29 sex workers performing inside along with one foreign man, believed to originally be from the UK, organising some the shows.
There were still several ‘virtual gogo bar’ channels online today, with officers warning they would also crack down on them.
Police said the group from the raid were arrested and held in custody on suspicion of breaking Covid-19 guidelines which have banned bars and strip clubs from opening.
Police Colonel Thanawut Jongjara said: ‘They dance in front of the camera to sell alcoholic drinks to online viewers. Each of their drink costs 150 baht which will be delivered to them. The viewers then watch them drink and dance.
‘The women used to work at bars before but they became jobless when the businesses closed down due to the pandemic.
‘Now they worked at a rented house to live stream them dancing and sell drinks online. Their manager was a male foreigner.’
The raid was done while the women were dancing in front of video streaming equipment which were seized by the officers as evidence.
Police Colonel Thanawut added: ‘The video equipment and computers will be examined forensically by police to see if any other charges can be added.
‘We will arrest anybody that is breaking the emergency decree that was passed to protect public health.’
Economists said that it could be another five years before the country’s once-thriving tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue. However, the country’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that it could be another five years before similar numbers are seen.
Analysts said that between now and 2026, around seven million workers will continue to be affected by the economic harm from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thailand has recorded 232,647 Covid-19 cases and 1,775 deaths as of June 24.