Thai newspapers and social media were aflutter Friday with news that the government will lift the rest of its lockdown measures – including bans on bars and pubs – in the next phase of economic reopening, but the details and even the dates remain speculation.
An early morning “exclusive” in one English-language online news source cited unnamed sources in the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet as saying July 1 would be the date to end all “internal lockdown”, restoring the country to the as close to normal as continued social distancing measures would allow. Oh, and no widespread foreign tourism.
The government officially refused to confirm the unnamed sources and, in fact, took pains with several different media outlets to say that not only was the date not set, but the list of businesses allowed to reopen remained in flux.
Up for reopening are schools; child and elderly care centers; educational scientific centers; meeting rooms for more than 200 people; large film productions; national parks and arboreta; remaining beaches and seacoasts; amusement parks, water parks, playgrounds and game shops; sports fields and gymnasiums; concert and event halls and trade show venues larger than 20,000 sq. meters; entertainment venues, pubs, bars and karaoke clubs; and soapy massage parlors.
All are considered “red” businesses with the highest potential to spawn Covid-19 super-spreader clusters, such as the one at the army-owned Lumpini Boxing Stadium that was responsible for the country’s largest outbreak cluster. The army on Friday fired the stadium’s entire management board, which had staged a boxing tournament there in March against government orders. Of course, the army officials have by now pocketed their profits from the illegal tournament.
The government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration launched its so-called Phase 4 reopening by sending out questionnaires about the “red” businesses coronavirus preventive measures and plans, so the government can then assess whether that particular operator is allowed to open and at what conditions.
The government officially refused to confirm the unnamed sources and, in fact, took pains … to say that not only was the date not set, but the list of businesses allowed to reopen remained in flux.
On Friday the CCSA invited major operators in to discuss disease-control measures in person.
CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said some of those who spoke in person were operators of businesses that have already been allowed to reopen parts, but not all, of their operations.
“For example, the discussions looked into the possibility of sports competitions at exercise venues,” he explained. “Events, concerts and entertainment venues will also be considered. Their operators must discuss the matter with CCSA.”
This week, depending on the day, various government sources, most unnamed, said that Phase 4 will take effect July 1 or June 15. Some declared the entire list of businesses will be permitted. Some said the highest risk venues – bars, disco, concert halls and boxing stadiums – could come even later.
The fact is, the ones who will decide are the only ones who know and they’re not saying yet.