Thailand introduces new Covid measures to slow surging number of cases

The number of “controlled” provinces, where moderate restriction measures to prevent the spread of Covid are being applied, was increased from 39 to 69 provinces, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on Friday.

The number of “Blue Zone” provinces, where tourist sandboxes are located, was maintained at eight provinces including Chonburi, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phangnga and Phuket.

“The Blue Zone was maintained in eight provinces to accommodate tourism activities,” said Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, CCSA’s spokesman.

The new zoning to apply measures was announced after Thailand reported more than 7,500 cases on Friday compared to around 3,500 cases in mid-December due to the discoveries of Omicron clusters, mainly in Bangkok, Kalasin, Roi Et, Phuket, Chonburi and Samut Prakan.

No new lock down measure was announced.

SHA+ and Thai Stop Covid 2 Plus certified restaurants, where more than 70 per cent of the staff are vaccinated, in the Blue Zone will continue to be able to serve alcohol until 9 pm.  

In the controlled provinces, designated with an orange color coding, alcohol consumption is still banned at all restaurants. Enclosed gaming areas and fun parks at malls are also temporarily closed in these provinces.

On-site schooling is permitted in all provinces but each province could apply its own measures. For example, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration ordered 109 public schools to go online on Friday in a bid to prevent the possible spread of Omicron at schools in the capital.

Public agencies are applying the work-from-home model and private businesses are being encouraged to do the same until the end of January.

Entertainment venues will continue to be close in all provinces. However, such venues in the Blue Zone that want to reopen as restaurants can do so after January 15 but they must follow Covid prevention regulations and gain permission from the local health agency first.

New regulations for these venues include proper airflow and all staff must be vaccinated and tested with ATK every three days.

Customers must be vaccinated and tested with ATK before entering the venues. Karaoke, dancing with others, sharing drinks and sale promotions or activities that involve participants will not be allowed in these venues for now.

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