Gyms, massage parlors in Bangkok can reopen as outbreak threat recedes

Dance students at the Fly Me to the Moon studio in Bangkok’s Ari neighborhood. Photo: Fly Me to the Moon Pole and Aerial Studio / Facebook
Dance students at the Fly Me to the Moon studio in Bangkok’s Ari neighborhood. Photo: Fly Me to the Moon Pole and Aerial Studio / Facebook

Update Jan. 21: Bangkok’s spas, massage parlors, gyms, internet cafes and martial arts schools can reopen Friday, City Hall announced today. Bars and nightclubs? Not yet.

Cautious optimism that Thailand’s second-wave outbreak is in decline led the prime minister to tease today a loosening of restrictions as soon as next month, while City Hall prepares to allow some businesses to reopen.

Speaking at the Government House, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the outbreak is declining as health officials succeed in containing it. He said that if things continue to go well, he may authorize the reopening of businesses and schools nationwide as soon as two weeks from now.

Hundreds of migrant Myanmar workers were quickly found infected within days of the first case being discovered on Dec. 18. Within a week, the virus had reached nearly half of the nation’s provinces. After peaking at 745 new cases on Jan. 4, likely due to a reporting lull during the year-end holidays, daily reports fell to an average of 277 confirmed cases each day. Rather than experiencing a post-New Year’s surge, they fell yesterday to just 171. (Ed. note: After this story was published, officials announced only 59 total new cases today.)

In Bangkok, about 600 cases have been confirmed since the first on Dec. 20. Those reports peaked on Jan. 7 but have since fallen to an average of 23 per day.

That’s led City Hall to consider relaxing measures in the capital as well. Deputy Gov. Sopon Pisuttiwong said city officials will meet Thursday to moot the reopening of businesses including massage parlors, gyms, gaming and internet cafes, banquet halls, tattoo parlors and amulet shops. He did not mention nightlife venues such as bars and nightclubs, which were ordered shut at the start of the year.

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: HEALTH

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