Dining-in to resume in Bangkok and other high risk provinces as Thailand eases Covid-19 curbs

A closed restaurant in Phuket on Aug 14, 2021. Since early August, some Thai cities and provinces have been under strict curbs. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thailand will be easing some Covid-19 restrictions in Bangkok and other high-risk provinces, allowing for limited dine-in services and inter-provincial travel.

The restrictions, which have been in effect for over a month in some provinces, will be eased from Sept 1, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Friday (Aug 27).

"These new measures will prepare the country for the gradual return to the new normal where we will co-exist with Covid-19," said the CCSA spokesman.

A 9pm curfew will remain but businesses and eateries can open if they are able to comply with public health protocols, said the taskforce.

This includes having social distancing measures, proper ventilation and hygiene standards, and fully-vaccinated employees who will take weekly Covid-19 tests.

Customers are encouraged to be fully-vaccinated or have tested negative for Covid-19 within the last seven days. But this will be mandatory from October.

Restaurants located outdoors, or indoor ones with no air-conditioning that have a proper ventilation system, can seat up to 75 per cent of their maximum capacity. Indoor eateries with air-conditioning can take up to 50 per cent of their maximum seating.

Most businesses within malls will be allowed to open, but some like beauty salons, massage parlours and aesthetic clinics can only provide limited services. For example, salons can only give hair cuts and only foot massages can be offered at massage parlours.

Other businesses within malls, like tuition centres, cinemas, spas, sporting facilities and conference halls are not allowed to open.

Fitness facilities outside malls can open for exercise, but they cannot hold events with audiences. Schools will also remain closed but their buildings can be used with permission from authorities.

The CCSA said restrictions on inter-provincial travel will also be reduced, and public transport can operate with 75 per cent capacity.

The easing of restrictions follows the declaration by authorities that Thailand may have crossed the peak of a Covid-19 wave that began in April.

On Friday, the kingdom reported 18,702 new infections and 273 deaths, bringing the total to 1,139,571 infections and 10,587 deaths. This is the sixth day that new daily cases have dipped below the 20,000 mark. The nation logged over 20,000 in previous weeks and this figure was projected earlier to top 60,000 a day.

Since early last month, Bangkok and nine other provinces have been under lockdown which includes a 9pm-to-4am curfew and the closure of most businesses in shopping malls. These rules were later extended to 19 more provinces.

Thailand's national inoculation drive that started in June, got off to a slow start due to delays in the supply and procurement of vaccines. However, the number of daily jabs administered has been increasing.

In Bangkok, where most of the Covid-19 infections are concentrated, almost 90 per cent of residents have received their first dose and about 27 per cent are fully vaccinated, said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

But vaccination rates across the country remains low with less than 10 per cent of the country's over 70 million population fully-vaccinated. The aim is to fully-vaccinate 70 per cent of Thais by the end of this year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.