The Public Health Ministry backpedaled this week’s announcement that it would seek an end to Thailand’s outdoor-facemask requirement next month.
After nearly the entire country gave out a collective cheer at Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he would propose in mid-June to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration that the masks no longer be required while outside, the ministry backed off Wednesday.
A ministry spokesman claimed Anutin did not set a time to relax the facemask mandates and that the easing would only come in “blue” and “green” zones first.
Taweesap Siriprapasiri of the Department of Disease Control said that the use of facemasks was considered personal protection while vaccination reduced the severity of illness, infection and the use of ventilators for patients.
When the country reopened, disease-control measures had to be relaxed to pave the way for the declaration of Covid-19 as an endemic disease. However, elderly people and visitors to poorly ventilated and crowded places should wear face masks for personal protection, Taweesap said.
Officials concerned would later consider an end to the facemask mandate in some areas, including ”blue” tourism-zone provinces and “green” provinces where Covid-19 transmission is low. However, that would depend on factors such as vaccination and the disease situation, he added.
If the number of new daily cases drops and 60%-70% of people have been vaccinated, most people can remove their masks in some places, such as exercise venues and public parks, Taweesap said.
The timing of the relaxation will depend on the Covid-19 situation, he reiterated.
Thailand on Thursday reported 4,924 new, confirmed Covid-19 cases and 37 deaths. The number of cases from antigen tests no longer is being reported.