SOE could shorten while malls seem set to reopen on May 17

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters at Government House on Thursday morning that the State of Emergency, which has been extended to May 30, could be shortened. 

“This is under discussion and it will be mainly up to suggestions from doctors,” he said. 

The curfew should still be in effect for now, he added.

Fully reopening malls could be part of the second phase of lockdown easing measures but that will be up to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s discretion. 

By Thursday afternoon, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) provided a new timeline for reopening businesses. 

Last week, the government allowed six groups of small businesses and public activities to reopen with a 14-day safety assessing period. It began on May 3. 

Businesses have been grouped into four colored groups (white, green, yellow and red) in accordance to their level of risk.

White and green reopened on Sunday. Yellow are bigger businesses with medium risk level, which could include department stores. 

Currently, only supermarkets, drug stores, telecommunication stores, restaurants and stores that sell essential products for everyday living are allowed to reopen.

“If there is no significant pick up in numbers before then, the second phase of easing measures will begin on May 17,” said government spokesperson Dr Thaweesin Visanuyothin.

Thailand reported single digit numbers of new confirmed coronavirus cases for the past week. More people continue to recover while only 165 remain in the hospital.

Thaweesin explained that the period between May 8-13 will be used to receive suggestions and analyze all the updated data before they can come up with a draft plan for the second phase.

The new measures will have to be approved by the CCSA, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, before it can come into effect.

“The second phase would include bigger businesses with more people compared to the smaller businesses that are essential to everyday living that have been allowed to reopen already,” Thaweesin added.

Work from home 

Thaweesin said on Thursday that measures to prevent crowding at sky train stations could include a quota on the number of people on platforms and real time notification in case one of the trains breaks down.

Government agencies are also discussing the possibility for public institutions to open and close at different times to prevent overcrowding on public transports and traffic congestion.

The government is also aiming to have at least 50 per cent of the 39 million labour force work from home. Thaweesin said government agencies are in talks with the private sector on this possibility.

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