Bangkok schools get OK to reopen; restaurants to serve alcohol again

Students at St. John’s University in Bangkok in a 2010 file photo. Photo: R. Monthienvichienchai / CCA-SA-3.0
Students at St. John’s University in Bangkok in a 2010 file photo. Photo: R. Monthienvichienchai / CCA-SA-3.0

Update Jan. 29: Restaurants will only be able to sell alcohol for takeaway after the cabinet today approved relaxing other measures as advised by health officials, including allowing them to serve until 11pm. The COVID task force said they backtracked on allowing them to serve alcohol to diners due to concern it would spread the virus.

Health officials today gave a green light for restaurants to serve until 11pm and offer alcohol to diners and teased the reopening of public schools.

Bangkok’s restaurants should soon be able to serve booze again and remain open another two hours past the current 9pm closing time, though pubs, bars, karaoke parlors and similar establishments must still remain closed, COVID-19 task force spokesperson Taweesilp Wisanuyothin announced in his daily briefing just before noon.

Taweesilp, who returned to duty after isolating himself only three days after possible exposure to the coronavirus, said live music performances will be allowed again outside the capital too if audiences don’t exceed 300 people and dancing is not allowed. In Bangkok, he said that gatherings, from conferences to weddings, can be held again so long as they capped at 100 participants with no bands or dancing allowed.

Schools, which did not reopen classrooms with the new term this month, may do so with a mix of online studying still needed to limit class size.

All of the task force’s recommendations will go for formal approval Friday by the cabinet.

The outbreak which began mid-December has tapered off with roughly 200 new daily cases recorded since the weekend. It continues to spread among the migrant workers where it was first detected in Samut Sakhon province, where a reporting spike logged 796 cases yesterday.

Health officials today announced 819 new cases, 809 of which were domestic. More than 700 were found in Samut Sakhon, though health officials have yet to determine how many involved migrant workers. Only six more cases were found in Bangkok.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that a ban on dancing and live music was being lifted in the capital. No such ban exists apart from a prohibition on live bands at large gatherings such as conferences or weddings.

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