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Nightlife industry asks not to be criminalized for South Korea COVID-19 outbreak

Written by gaytourism

Due to the numerous articles and news reports as a result of the recent coronavirus outbreak linked to a South Korean nightlife area, on behalf of the International Nightlife Association, member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) we want to express our deep discontent for the criminalization our industry is facing. We consider that nightlife, in general, is in no way should be considered or be blamed for the aforementioned incident. All without prejudice to the fact that some individual responsibility can be elucidated if the local authorities determine that there was a lack of compliance with any of the preventive measures enforced.

As many of you know, supposedly over 100 people have tested positive for Coronavirus stemming from going out in a popular nightlife district in Itaewon. The spread of the virus has been linked to a 29-year-old male that had visited the nightlife scene in Itaewon during the first weekend of May, visiting up to 5 different nightlife venues and coming in contact with over a thousand other clubgoers. The 29-year-old did not know he had the virus and did not display any symptoms until after going out that weekend, so neither the club nor him could’ve prevented his entrance to nightlife venues.

Due to this recent outbreak, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon ordered over 2,100 nightlife venues to close indefinitely with immediate effect, making nightlife in the city disappear once again with an uncertain reopening. At the moment and for the most part, nightlife venues are closed, though some are still authorized to open, they need to do so following strict measures such as obligating clients to wear masks and keep a safe distance. Also, according to the Mayor of Seoul, nighttime police patrolling has been increased to try and detect those venues who are not complying with the measures in place.

We want to also condemn the link between the incident and the LGTBQ community 

On the other hand, we also condemn any homophobic actions and want to disassociate the fact that the outbreak occurred in gay nightlife venues, it could have happened in any venue and should not be linked to the gay community. Also, we urge that the media and the authorities take measures to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of the events occurred such as the human rights group, Amnesty International’s branch in Korea has solicited.

In our condition of the only worldwide nightlife organization, we are looking into this case and studying the facts and waiting for the result of the official investigations being carried out by the local authorities. So, until then, there’s no one to blame. As a matter of fact, if some nightlife venues visited by the person that supposedly caused the outbreak were not complying with the measures enforced it shouldn’t directly impact all the others that are doing things correctly not to mention the damage it causes to the image of the sector worldwide.

Nightlife feels abandoned despite its importance to tourism and the global economy 

As stated by Maurizio Pasca, 2nd Vice President of the INA and President of the European Nightlife Association and the Italian Nightlife Association (SILB-FIPE), “The nightlife industry’s turnover worldwide is around 4,000 billion dollars, employs more than 150 million workers, and moves more than 15.3 billion clients a year worldwide. Not to mention that it is a first-class tourist attraction for many countries in the world. Despite this, it is a global industry that is not taken into account and should be more respected and should receive more aid than it does, since for the moment it’s not receiving much”.

The industry is working on prevention since the beginning of the pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the INA started to work on the creation of the  “Sanitized Venue” seal for nightlife business to gain the trust of clients and staff and protect them from the COVID-19 and started to provide the necessary tools for its implementation. We began studying the specific necessities of nightlife venues and chose a name that defines the purpose, which is having nightlife venues as clean and disinfected possible. In fact, as we previously informed, two venues from Spain have already obtained this seal.

The “Sanitized Venue” seal is currently the only international sanitary seal tailored specifically for nightlife venues around the world. Its main goal is to help regain the trust of the industry’s clients once nightlife venues are able to reopen. The seal is a clear guarantee that the venues in question are, as clean and disinfected as possible, and at the same time incorporates elements and protocols to protect the health of clients and workers. Some of these being to install hand sanitizing dispensers, the obligation of staff to wear masks and gloves, having gloves and masks available for clients, the introduction of a strict cleaning and disinfection protocol, mechanisms for taking the temperature of clients, informative posters with recommendations for clients, encouraging contactless card payment, mechanisms for ordering drinks from a distance, and optionally, introducing air purification systems among other sanitary protection measures. Additionally, the seal requires training and a protocol of action for all the staff in the venue so that both security staff and staff in dance halls, kitchen, bars, cloakrooms, etc., know how to act at all times.

As a matter of fact, the International Nightlife Nightlife Association is totally committed to safety and health since 2013 when decided to launch the International Nightlife Safety Certified seal following the fire in an unlicensed nightclub in Brazil that did not meet the most elementary safety standards, resulting in 234 deaths.

The International Nightlife Association provides all kinds of suppliers to help prevent the spread of any diseases to its members 

Due to the need of providing measures and material to prevent the spread of diseases and to make the “Sanitized Venue” seal as efficient as possible with the greatest knowledge, the INA has been in contact with numerous suppliers, in order to partner up and provide authorized products.

Regarding temperature taking mechanisms, we are about to close a partnership with a Chinese multinational company, that is present in 60 countries worldwide. Hikvision offers different products that allow for portable detection based on thermal cameras allowing for the detection of people that have a higher temperature than predetermined.

When it comes to the cleaning and sterilization of air, we have partnered with Biow, an air treatment solution that offers total air purification. Biow manufactures an air purification system that eliminates viruses, bacteria, and toxins, totally renovating the air of a venue every 3 hours, similar to an aircraft.

In terms of chemical fogging, in conjunction with the AFLP Group, we signed an agreement with the accredited international company Elis Pest Control. This multinational company, with a presence in 27 countries around the world and duly authorized by the health authorities, is responsible for carrying out all disinfection and cleaning control work in nightlife venues.

Technology industries are developing apps to prevent new sprouts of COVID-19 during the return to the “the normality”. This is the case of our partner Discocil, a company that has developed a venue management software that improves the profitability of events and the experience of the attendee. One of their main features is a collaborative platform for each venue where attendees can express, voluntarily and privately, if they have been infected after the event so the promoter can notify the rest of attendees to take the appropriate measures for their safety. While always respecting the Data Protection Laws of each country or territory. As a matter of fact, the South Korean authorities are looking into the possibility of introducing, in the future, the mandatory use of QR codes to be able to verify the client’s identity at the entrances of nightlife venues.


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