Theaters may reopen, curfew gets a cut: COVID-19 Task Force

Photo: Don Mueang International Airport-DMK / Facebook
Photo: Don Mueang International Airport-DMK / Facebook

Return to movie theaters and start your day earlier – or slink home pre-dawn sooner – when restrictions are lifted Monday.

Health officials today announced that cinemas are among venues which may resume business as coronavirus infections wane, but may only seat 200 patrons and not host live performances. The overnight curfew will also be adjusted by one hour – on the morning side – to end at 4am rather than 3am.

Additionally, shopping malls and department stores will be allowed to stay open one hour later, until 9pm, according to Gen. Somsak Rungsita of the National Security Council.

The third phrase of reopening the economy, wide swaths of which were shuttered in March to stem the outbreak, will also include sporting venues such as skating rinks, bowling alleys, amulet markets, nurseries and exhibition halls of under 20,000sqm. 

The news comes as COVID-19 task force spokesperson Taweesilp Wissanuyothin announced another 11 new cases that for a second day were all found in Thais returning from abroad. Eleven people automatically quarantined upon their return from Kuwait were found to be infected. No additional deaths were reported.

Taweesilp added that his team has also discussed reopening some schools earlier than July 1 on the condition they are located in remote areas where there is no risk of infection. 

They are considering allowing students to take shifts in attending classes, he said, to reduce the risk of infection.

On Thursday, he said that no new infections had been detected for the past month in 65 provinces.

The curfew and other measures remain in place under the authority of an emergency decree enacted by Gen. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that his cabinet formally extended another month on Tuesday.

International rights group Human Rights Watch slammed it as a “pretext for violating basic rights.”

“The Emergency Decree provides Thai authorities unchecked powers to suppress fundamental freedoms with zero accountability,” said Brad Adams, the group’s director in Asia. “There is no legitimate basis for extending this decree, which allows for the arbitrary and disproportionate restriction of rights guaranteed under international law and the Thai constitution.”

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