On the third consecutive record-breaking day of new COVID-19 infections, health officials Friday afternoon announced a raft of new hardship measures targeting Thailand’s 18 hardest-hit areas, including the capital.
After saying that no curfew would be imposed, Taweesilp Wissanoyothin of the national pandemic task force said all gatherings should be kept to no more than 50 people, schools should avoid holding in-person classes, restaurants can no longer serve alcohol, nightlife venues must remain closed and hours limited at a number of businesses where people gather in the nation’s COVID-19 “red zones.”
Nationwide, all nightlife venues – such as bars, brothels and karaoke parlors – must remain closed until at least April 30. Gyms and fitness centers must close by 9pm. Convenience stores and night markets must close from 11pm to 4am.
The news came only after the prime minister opened the address to say very little of anything in about 10 minutes of rambling comments:
“Every single measure that has been imposed hurts me,” Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha said. “It’s a very difficult decision, and I am not happy.”
“No curfew today, okay?”
“I can’t be angry with media. I can’t curse at you, I know.”
He said protesters who have been holding demonstrations against his government should be “careful” and invoked the same Churchillian catchphrase he’s used since last year: “Thailand will prevail!”
The list of highest-risk “red zone” areas includes Bangkok and the provinces of Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Tak, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Pathum Thani, Prachuap Kiri Khan, Phuket, Rayong, Songkhla, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Sa Keao, Suphanburi and Udon Thani.
The measures are imposed for at least 14 days or two weeks starting Sunday (April 18) before the task force will “consider” if the measures should be implemented further.
Following the Songkran holidays, people still can travel between provinces, according to Taweesilp. However, he asked for the public’s cooperation with canceling or postponing travel if possible.
For reference, here’s a breakdown of the new measures:
Bar, commercial sex parlors and karaoke joints throughout Thailand must be shut for at least the next 14 days.
For the 18 “red zones”:
- Schools are asked to avoid holding classes with some exceptions can be made for examinations or certain training.
- No gathering of more than 50 people unless allowed by the authorities.
- Restaurants can open until 9pm but can offer takeaway until 11pm.
- Blanket ban on serving alcohol on-site.
- Department stores and shopping malls must close by 9pm.
- Convenience stores and night markets must close by 11pm and can reopen again as soon as 4am.
- Gyms and fitness centers can open until 9pm.
59 “orange zones”:
- Restaurants can open for diners until 11pm.
- Bans on serving on-site alcohol.
New COVID-19 cases crested 1,000 for the third straight day today, bringing the total since January 2020 to 39,035. The official death toll stood at 97. Apart from a small number of vaccine doses acquired from abroad, Thailand does not intend to begin manufacturing the domestic supply needed for a mass vaccination campaign for another two months.