Thailand mulls over longer hours for pubs, bars as Covid-19 cases drop

The operators of such facilities may be allowed to operate them in accordance with the local rules. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thailand may allow bars, pubs and other entertainment venues to extend their hours beyond the current midnight limit as the tourism-reliant nation unwinds pandemic-era restrictions to bolster its economy.

The country's main Covid-19 task force will consider a proposal on Friday (June 17) to scrap the mandatory closure, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters on Thursday.

Businesses must still adhere to local rules, which may differ among provinces, he said. 

South-east Asia’s second-biggest economy has shred travel and economic restrictions to kick-start growth as new infections have dropped. 

The relaxations come as tourism-dependent countries scramble and compete to woo travellers amid accelerating inflation and sagging consumption.  

"It’s time to bring back some normal activities with serious risk of Covid-19 to the public health having receded," said Mr Anutin.

The panel will also discuss declaring more safe areas, or the so-called green zones, where the virus outbreak has subsided in recent weeks, he said.  

The Health Ministry will also review guidelines for mask wearing in public places, including exceptions for outdoor activities, he said.  

New Covid-19 infections dropped to 2,153 on Thursday, down from more than 20,000 per day reported in April.  

The meeting of the panel, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will also consider scrapping the so-called Thailand Pass programme, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said last week.

Foreign nationals are currently required to upload details of vaccinations and proof of medical insurance of at least US$10,000 (S$14,000) before departure to secure the Thailand Pass, which allows Covid-19-negative visitors a waiver of quarantine on arrival and free mobility in the country.  

Thai travel and leisure-industry players have been calling for cancellation of the registration programme, saying it deters prospective holidaymakers.  

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