BANGKOK - Thailand's capital and surrounding provinces will come under stricter Covid-19 rules that include a night curfew, as the authorities warn that daily infection figure could exceed 10,000 in the coming weeks.
The tougher measures, majority of which start on Monday (July 12), will last for 14 days.
The movement of people in 10 provinces known as "dark-red zones" will be limited.
The zones include the Bangkok metropolitan area and four southern provinces - Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala - with a high number of infections, said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
A curfew from 9pm to 4am will be imposed in these zones, and people are encouraged to leave home only for essential purposes.
Gatherings of larger than five people will also be banned, except for events such as funerals.
There will be curbs on inter-provincial travel and, from Saturday, checkpoints will be set up to minimise movement from the affected zones to the rest of the country.
Within the Bangkok metropolitan area, shopping malls and aesthetic businesses such as spas and massage parlours will be closed.
Essential shops will have to shut by 8pm. These include supermarkets, takeaway restaurants, banks and financial institutions, as well as pharmacies and vaccination centres in malls. Public transport services will stop operating after 9pm.
The CCSA also said that all government departments will be working from home at "full capacity" and urged private businesses to do the same.
Faced with rising infections and deaths in the past week, a Covid-19 task force meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha approved the tougher measures on Friday.
The number of fatalities from Covid-19 hit an all-time high of 75 on Thursday.
On Friday, the country reported its second-highest single-day increase of 9,276 cases and 72 deaths.
This brings its total to more than 317,000 infections with 2,534 deaths since the pandemic started last year.
The CCSA also warned that the Delta variant's prevalence could cause daily figures to exceed 10,000 cases and more than 100 deaths in the coming weeks.
Thailand is preparing for the potential spike in cases, as its healthcare system has already run out of beds for critically ill patients.
A newly built terminal at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport will be converted into a field hospital with 5,000 beds by August.
A slow vaccination drive, that relies mostly on AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots, has hampered efforts to contain the virus spread as the nation undergoes its third and most severe Covid-19 wave.
Since February, Thailand has administered almost 12 million shots and only about 3.2 million of its 66 million population has been fully vaccinated.