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Bangkok Moves Toward Full Shutdown, Closes Public Venues, Schools

CCSA asks restaurants to go takeout-only

Closed businesses line Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok's main tourist and business district. Public venues have been ordered closed again in the capital. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)
Closed businesses line Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok's main tourist and business district. Public venues have been ordered closed again in the capital. (Photo: Bangkok Herald)

Bangkok on Friday took its next steps toward complete shutdown, closing schools, shutting all public venues, and placing even more restrictions on three districts declared “red zones”.

The moves came after Thailand reported another 279 coronavirus cases, the second-most since the second-wave outbreak began Dec. 17.

Under the order effective at midnight from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, amusement and water parks, playgrounds and children’s play equipment, game centers, snooker and billiard halls, amulet shops, horse0 and motor-racing tracks, animal-fighting venues; tattoo parlors, childcare centers, daily elderly-care centers, martial arts schools, boxing rings, “soapy” massage parlors, banquet halls, flea markets, and gyms must close indefinitely.

Department stores are exempted from the order, provided they implement stricter virus control, and restaurants can remain open for the moment. However, the Public Health Ministry on Friday recommended restaurants offer takeout and delivery only in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Chonburi and Rayong.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Saturday will decide the matter. But CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin indicated Friday that the administration would not only shut down dine-in eating, but all entertainment venues in those six provinces where they haven’t already been closed.

The BMA today also closed all 437 schools and 292 child care centers under its jurisdiction until Jan. 17. The measure does not cover private schools.

City hall also designated Nong Khaem, Bang Phlat and Bang Khun Thian as “highly controlled areas” where district chief officers are empowered to suspend any activity deemed to be at risk of contributing to the spread of Covid-19.

While Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reiterated Thursday that there is no plan for a nationwide lockdown, provincial governors are authorized to shut down their regions. Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong and Bangkok already have done so.

Tweesin said infections only will increase over the next several weeks and advised other lower-risk provinces to monitor people coming from the forementioned hot zones plus Chanthaburi Province.

Khon Kaen on Friday did just that, requiring self-quarantine for anyone arriving from high-risk areas for 14 days.