The government announced new regulations on Friday to help stem the tide of the third wave of the pandemic which has infected thousands across the country.
The country reported 1,582 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, the highest single day total since the pandemic began in March last year. This latest round of the outbreak had led to 8,590 cases between April 1 and April 15, according to government statistics.
As a result, 18 provinces are now placed in the red zone or the “highly restricted” area. This include Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Tak, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thaini, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket, Rayong, Songkhla, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Sa Kaeo, Suphan Buri and Udon Thani.
Despite this, the prime minister said that it would not yet introduce curfews because he sympathized with businesses that were affected during the lockdown last year.
“There is no curfew and this is not a lockdown yet,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said in a televised address to the nation. “We sympathize with businesses that will be affected.”
“Closing everything down is easy but many people will be in trouble and there will be more officials on the ground and that could lead to the spread of the virus as well,” he said.
The new zoning rules will come into effect after midnight on Saturday (April 18) and will be in effect for two week. Those under the red zone will have to abide by the following:
- No gathering, event or any activity that could lead to the spread of the virus.
- No gathering of more than 50 people, except for field hospitals and quarantine facilities.
- No ceremonial event of any kind.
- The private sector is being asked to adopt the work-from-home and the hybrid WFH models.
- All school buildings and education venues are temporary closed around the country. International schools will have to ask permit for exams.
- All entertainment venues, such as pub, bar, karaoke and lounge along with bath and massage parlors, are temporary closed around the country for at least 14 days.
- Dining at restaurants in the red zone is now permitted until 9 pm only. However, restaurant can still stay open for takeaway option until 11 pm.
- Restaurants in the orange zone, or the “controlled” area which include the remaining 59 provinces, can open until 11 pm.
- Restaurant cannot serve alcoholic drinks around the country.
- Malls in the red zone can open until 9 pm around the country.
- Retail stores, supermarkets and markets must close between 11 pm and 4 am around the country.
- Gyms, finesses and sporting venues can open until 9 pm around the country.
- Stadiums can open and competitions can be held but with a limited number of audiences.