Thailand Imposes New Covid-19 Restrictions

Tougher measures have just been rolled out in Bangkok and 27 other “red zone” provinces around the country.

The Bangkok skyline and Hua Lamphong station at dusk. (Photo: Pariwat Srisuwan/Unsplash)

Residents of Bangkok returning home from the New Year holidays will find themselves subject to stricter controls to combat a resurgence of the coronavirus, traced in mid-December to a seafood market in nearby Samut Sakhon. Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has now declared 28 provinces “red zones”, including the Thai capital as well as other areas such as Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Samut Sakhon, and Tak.

On Sunday, the CCSA announced a raft of new rules to prevent large gatherings in red-zone provinces, effective from today until February 1. Schools and educational institutes with more than 120 students must now shift back to online learning, while meetings, seminars, and banquets cannot be held unless granted special permission from authorities. In addition, pubs, bars, and karaoke parlors in the affected areas must be temporarily closed. This follows an earlier order signed by Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang last Friday that shuttered not just entertainment venues, but also gyms, spas, massage parlors, amusement parks, and playgrounds. All schools run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration must also be closed for the next two weeks. While dine-in services at restaurants are still allowed, the eateries are subject to capacity limits and consumption of alcohol is not permitted.

Yesterday, CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin explained why the government did not resort to a nationwide lockdown seen during the early months of the pandemic. “We will not lock down the country because there is an economic cost to pay and everybody with suffer,” he said. Instead, the CCSA has opted for greater flexibility, allowing governors of each province to impose additional measures on top of the latest Covid-19 prevention guidelines. Thailand recorded 315 newly confirmed coronavirus infections on Sunday, of which 294 were locally transmitted. This brings the cumulative total in the country to 7,694 cases, including 64 fatalities.

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