Thailand to ease some dining restrictions in capital, offer Covid-19 vaccine to restaurant staff

Restaurants in dark red zones like Bangkok will be allowed to reopen with a limited capacity for dining in. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand plans to allow restaurants to resume dine-in services in capital Bangkok, a senior official said on Saturday (May 15), but opening hours and the number of diners will be limited as the country grapples a third wave of coronavirus infections.

Restaurants in dark red zones like Bangkok will be allowed to reopen for dine-in services but at a limited capacity of 25 per cent and will have to close at 9pm, said Mr Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a coronavirus taskforce spokesman.

Restaurants in dark red zones, which have the highest risk of infection and the strictest restrictions, could previously only open for delivery.

The new regulations, subject to the prime minister's approval, should take effect before Monday, he said at a briefing, adding that some 100,000 restaurant operators and staff will be offered vaccines to ensure their safety.

Since April, Thailand has been battling its deadliest coronavirus outbreak.

Thailand reported 3,095 new coronavirus cases and 17 deaths on Saturday, bringing total cases to 99,145 and 565 deaths. Of the new cases, 1,163 were in Bangkok.

Bangkok, the epicentre of the outbreak, and four other provinces are categorised as dark red zones.

Another 17 provinces are in red zones, risk areas where restaurants can serve customers until 11pm and 56 provinces are in orange areas, where there are no dining restrictions.

Malls nationwide will still close at 9pm and entertainment venues remain closed.

Thailand has administered 2.2 million vaccine doses to frontline workers and high-risk groups so far and a broader vaccination drive is expected to start in June.

An app for foreigners is also being developed to allow them to register for inoculation, said Mr Natapanu Nopakun, a foreign ministry spokesman.

"Walk-in vaccinations will be available soon. Provinces that are ready can commence immediately. Foreigners can walk into these locations when they are announced," he said.

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