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Bangkok Shuts Bars, Bans Alcohol in Restaurants; Pathum Thani Announces Shutdown

Covid-19 Evening Update: Rayong hospitals swamped, field hospitals to open in East, Buriram adds mandatory quarantines

Bangkok officials presented shutdown orders to pub and bar owners Friday night.
Bangkok officials presented shutdown orders to pub and bar owners Friday night.

Bangkok City Hall late Friday expanded its list of businesses told to close to stem the tide of Thailand’s coronavirus second wave, banning alcohol from restaurants and closing any pub not serving food.

The amended dictate came hours after the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration indefinitely shut down, effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, 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.

The BMA also extended its initial closure of 437 schools and 292 child care centers under its jurisdiction from the original Jan. 17 until “indefinitely”. The measure does not cover private schools.

Restaurants, which started Friday with only hours restrictions, saw their ability to serve alcohol cut in the evening and, by mid-day Saturday, may have their dining rooms shut down as well. The CCSA will decide whether to accept the Public Health Ministry’s restaurants in high-risk areas revert to takeout and delivery only.

Alcohol sales are not banned – yet – and can still be purchased in convenience stores and supermarkets and consumed at home. Customers with wholesale business accounts also can still order alcohol online for delivery after direct-to-consumer online sales were banned Dec. 7.

City hall stopped, at least for now, a full shutdown of the city. Markets, shopping malls and standalone retailers, hairdressers, nail salons, beauty clinics, golf courses and driving ranges, sports stadiums, parks, exercise grounds, sporting fields, pet grooming stores, swimming pools, gardens, museums, theaters, zoos and animal shows still will operate normally under strict disease-control measures including required mask use.

How long those remain open is anyone’s guess, but the outlook as Thailand begins 2021 is bleak. The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration reported 279 new infections in Thailand on Friday, including 20 in Bangkok, and 723 in the past three days.

After the CCSA’s daily briefing, Nonthaburi added 25 more infections to its growing total while Pathum Thani’s governors also closed, until at least Jan. 15, pubs, bars and entertainment venues, restaurants, schools, indoor sports centers, gyms, massage and health, game shops and Internet cafes, amusement parks, swimming pools, tattooing, bowling alleys, fishing ponds and other high-risk establishments.

In Rayong, where 37 new cases were reported Friday, coronavirus cases are overwhelming hospitals, forcing provincial officials to convert a local quarantine facility into a 70-bed field hospital while, in Chonburi, where 51 new cases were confirmed, preparations are under way to turn a resort and a naval base in Sattahip District into field hospitals.

Buriram late Friday joined Khon Kaen in imposing two-week quarantines on those traveling to the Issan province from 11 hot zones: Samut Sakhon, Rayong, Chonburi, Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Trat, Samut Songkhram, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Chanthaburi.