City governor Aswin Kwanmuang announced on Monday that entertainment venues in 3 Bangkok districts have been ordered closed from 6th-19th April to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The decision to temporarily close the venues in Klong Toey, Watthana and Bang Khae was reached at Bangkok’s communicable disease committee on Monday evening.
If the disease spreads to other districts, the affected establishments will also be shut. “We’re monitoring the situation,” the governor said.
The closure affects 196 entertainment establishments in the three districts, he added.
The Public Health Ministry also plans tougher restrictions on other eateries and entertainment venues in Bangkok and surrounding provinces ahead of the Songkran holiday next week after new clusters of infections were detected in night-entertainment venues in the capital.
Closing hours will be brought forward from 11 pm to 9 pm with a ban on the sale of alcohol.
Department of Disease Control (DDC) director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said the number of COVID-19 infections is expected to rise after new clusters of infections were detected in a Narathiwat prison and Bangkok bars.
In light of this, the meeting of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) on Monday agreed that Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, and Nakhon Pathom will be designated as red zones under maximum control.
Eateries in the red zone provinces will be allowed to open until 9 pm. Customers will be allowed to dine in but no consumption of alcoholic beverages will be allowed.
Entertainment venues can open until 9 pm. Customers will be allowed to eat in but no alcohol consumption will be permitted.
Department stores and shopping malls can still operate as usual, under health and safety protocols. Schools and educational institutes will remain open.
The proposals will be presented for consideration by the subcommittee of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Wednesday. The new restrictions will be enforced for two weeks and they will then be assessed, Dr Karnkawinpong said.
After fewer cases were reported, COVID-19 infections on Sunday made a comeback in the capital as health authorities said cases linked to the entertainment cluster had risen to 71, according to the DDC.
Of the 71 cases, they are scattered in Bangkok (45), Pathum Thani (11), Nonthaburi (8) and Nakhon Pathom (7), according to the DDC.
The cluster is thought to have originated at an entertainment venue in Pathum Thani province before spreading to others in Thong Lor and Ekamai in Bangkok.
“Employees were the conduits as they contracted the disease from customers and then spread it to others. Most patrons also visited more than one place and musicians and employees working at entertainment places tend to work multiple jobs, accelerating the spread,” Dr Karnkawinpong said.
He identified risky behaviour such as not wearing masks, shouting, and drinking which led to poor judgement and sharing glasses.
Apisamai Srirangson, an assistant spokeswoman of the CCSA, said on Monday that the CCSA subcommittee discussed COVID-19 control measures for entertainment venues.
An entertainment venue will be closed immediately for two weeks if an infection is detected on the premises. If infections cover a large zone of entertainment venues and cannot be contained, provincial authorities will have authority to close the zone or seal off the entire province, Dr Srirangson said.
The measures will be submitted to the CCSA for endorsement, she said.