The government’s coronavirus task force on Monday, as expected, lifted the remainder of Thailand’s lockdown measures, but extended its emergency decree for another month.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Assessment spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin said as of July 1 the highest-risk businesses, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues, gaming centers, internet cafes, and soapy massage parlors, will be able to reopen, albeit with a battery of disease-control restrictions that nightlife operators have called excessive and impossible to enforce.
The most significant of the restrictions is an order that all nightlife venues close at midnight.
How many others on a proposed list of micromanaging rules dictating everything from the height of table partitions to menu formats were approved was not clear at the time of the CCSA’s Monday morning news conference.
While all of Thailand’s businesses will be free to reopen Wednesday, the government’s emergency decree will remain in place.
Blasted by activists and opposition parties as a tool being misused by the former coup-leading generals to maintain dictatorial control over the country despite the minimal democracy restored by the most-recent election, the decree gives the government the power to as it likes with no regard for laws or the constitution.
Taweesilp said the CCSA deemed continuance of the decree necessary, as current laws don’t allow for countrywide lockdowns should a “second wave” of the coronavirus hit, border closures or operation of state-tun quarantine centers. Amendments could be made to the country’s disease-control laws to allow for that, but, right now, they aren’t possible, he said.
With schools, stadiums and bars reopening July 1 and limited arrivals of foreigners expected to begin, the government argued that the chances of a reemergence of Covid-19 is nearly certain and that it needs the flexibility that the emergency decree allows.
If the reopenings go smoothly, then the decree can be lifted on July 31 or sooner, Taweesilp said.
Evidence of the threat that foreign arrivals pose emerged Monday with the announcement that seven of 361 who returned to Thailand on Friday have tested positive for the coronavirus. There were no additional deaths reported and no new recoveries.
While regular tourists still will be barred from Thailand for the foreseeable future, the CCSA is considering so-called “travel bubbles” with Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The country also will be allowing travelers in other select groups to enter the country. All, however, would have to enter 14-day quarantine. They are expats who are married to Thais, hold permanent residency or work permits, are children of Thai nationals, international school students and parents, and those invited by the government or have other “special arrangements”.
Taweesilp did not provide additional a timetable or other details regarding travel by those groups.