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Covid-19 Endemic ‘Soon’, But Face Masks, Bar Restrictions to Stay, If Anutin Has His Way

Thailand’s public health minister says the government still wants to “control people’s behavior” and will not drop its universal face mask mandate, even when Covid-19 is declared an endemic disease.

Minister Anutin Charnvirakul again drew derision for his anti-foreigner, overly conservative opinions Wednesday when he said authorities were going to press harder to get foreign tourists to wear face masks while, in the same breath, saying Covid-19 cases were falling to an unworrisome level and that the virus would soon declared endemic.

Known for his pro-weed, anti-booze and anti-nightlife views, Anutin – who has aspirations to succeeding Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister – said he had ordered the Disease Control Department to draft restrictions and health measures to be imposed on nightclubs, soapy massages parlors, karaoke joints and other bars for when they are allowed to legally reopen.

Of course, most bars in the country already are open through corruption and fake restaurant licenses.

The government recently lowered its Covid-19 alert from Level 4 to Level 3, but Anutin still has backed off the earlier announcement that the endemic-status declaration would come on July 1. But he claimed that all government stakeholders agree with the full scale reopening of the country and the resumption of business and activities.

As such, he assigned the DCD to plan measures for the reopening of pubs and bars and for foreign tourists to keep wearing face masks.

“Right now, controlling the disease is not a problem but controlling people’s behavior is,” Anutin told the media. “We still need to encourage people to put on face masks.”

The ministry on Thursday reported 8,019 officially confirmed Covid-19 cases and 59 deaths, although the country continues to see the same amount or more of reported positive test results from antigen kits.