Coronavirus pandemic

Fewer new infections, so Thailand will reopen some businesses

BANGKOK • Thailand will start reopening on Sunday some businesses, such as outdoor markets, barber shops and pet groomers, after the number of new coronavirus infections dropped into single digits this week, a government spokesman said.

The country reported seven new infections but no deaths yesterday, taking its tally since the outbreak began in January to 2,954 cases, with the death toll staying at 54.

Even after Sunday's reopening, a night-time curfew and ban on sales of alcohol will stay until the end of the month unless otherwise specified, said Mr Taweesin Wisanuyothin of the government's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Among the six categories set to reopen are small retailers, street food stalls and restaurants outside shopping malls, and parks and outdoor sports facilities, he told a news conference. But department stores, movie theatres, gyms and spas, as well as most indoor sports venues will stay closed, to ensure there are no large gatherings.

Thailand this week extended an emergency decree till the end of the month, effectively prolonging some measures already in place. These include a ban on incoming international passenger flights, Mr Taweesin said, as well as the alcohol ban ordered on April 10.

"Unless changes are announced, alcohol sales will not happen at this time," he said. Services at barber shops would be limited to cutting, washing and blow-drying of hair, he added.

Four consecutive days of new infections in the single digits prompted the government to drop the curbs on some businesses.

Now it will watch the situation for the next 14 days to decide whether to free up more businesses or clamp down again to contain the virus.

"If the number of infections stays stable, we will ease restrictions further," Mr Taweesin said.


"But if the number rises to double or triple digits again, we will have to reassess everything."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2020, with the headline 'Fewer new infections, so Thailand will reopen some businesses'. Print Edition | Subscribe