BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thailand ordered the closure of entertainment venues in its capital city and 40 other provinces for at least two weeks to contain a flare-up in coronavirus infections ahead of the nation's biggest annual festival.
Bars, pubs, karaoke and massage parlours will remain closed until April 23, Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said in Bangkok on Friday (April 9) after the measure was approved by a panel headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Provincial governors will have the power to extend the shutdown or revoke them early if the situation improves, he said.
"All provincial governments have the power to order any other establishments, besides the ones announced today, to close if they are at risk of becoming an epicentre of infections," Dr Taweesilp said, adding that Thais should avoid any risky activities that may lead to the spread of the virus during the upcoming holiday next week.
The authorities in Bangkok had already shuttered almost 200 nightlife entertainment venues early this week after they emerged as the epicentre of the latest spike, with tests showing prevalence of more virulent UK variant of the virus.
The resurgence in outbreaks ahead of the Thai New Year festivities next week is likely to hit the economy hard and delay plans to gradually lift curbs on vaccinated foreign tourists.
Mr Prayut has ordered state agencies and private hospitals to work together in vaccine procurement in order to get 10 million more vaccine doses, with the aim of inoculating as many as 45 million people to reach herd immunity, according to Dr Taweesilp.
The premier also asked private medical facilities to conduct tests on those seeking services and send infected patients to field hospitals or other locations, after reports arose that private hospitals were not conducting tests due to lack of beds.
Thailand has added more than 2,000 new cases this month, with the majority of them traced to the new clusters in Bangkok.
The resurgence has weighed on the nation's stocks and currency, with the benchmark SET Index heading for its first weekly loss in three.
The baht has lost 0.4 per cent against the US dollar this week, and is poised for an eighth week of declines.