The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is calling on eateries and restaurants to not defy restrictions on dining-in that were put in place to curb the spread of the virus, as it admitted that a fourth wave of infections will soon sweep through the country.
On Wednesday, Gen Natthapol Nakpanich, head of CCSA’s operations centre, said on Wednesday a fourth wave is imminent because the Delta variant which was first detected in India is rapidly spreading domestically – a fact worrying experts at Siriraj Hospital, the country’s main medical facility.
Health authorities have found the Delta variant is quickly making inroads against the Alpha strain first detected in the United Kingdom, which was once the most commonly detected COVID-19 variant in Thailand.
Experts have recommended a slew of new measures which the government quickly put in place last weekend with little notice to affected businesses – a move which drew heavy criticism from business owners whose operations are affected by the restrictions.
Restaurant owners and operators, for example, protested against the abrupt announcement, which left them little time to prepare.
Many had stocked up on fresh ingredients the night before the ban, only to wake up and be told that no dine-in would be allowed for a month.
The dine-in ban was published in the Royal Gazette around midnight on Saturday and came into effect on Monday.
On Wednesday, Gen Nakpanich urged restaurant owners and operators not to join a campaign of civil disobedience being drummed up on social media, which calls on restaurants and eateries to defy the dine-in ban.
He said the government is aware of the #GooJaperdMuengJaThammai (“We’ll Open, What Are You Going Do About It?”) campaign.
On her Facebook page, Pannika Wanich, spokeswoman for the Progressive Movement, bemoaned the “unfair law” being enforced on restaurants and eateries, against which people must mount stiff resistance. She also asked restaurants and eateries to sign up for the campaign.
Organisers said on Facebook the campaign will be launched in three stages. Stage 1 will see the opening of 10-15 participating restaurants and eateries in each Bangkok district where live music will be played, but patrons would be limited to no more than 20.
In Stage 2, alcohol will be served with businesses opened to close friends and regular customers only.
In Stage 3, restaurants and beer gardens will be set up on roads, where protest speeches will be made.
The organisers said they have hired lawyers to help defend participating restaurants and eateries in court for breaking the executive decree on security and public health.
Gen Nakpanich, however, insisted defying the dine-in ban could worsen the virus transmission and endanger the lives of both the operators and customers.
Authorities will seek cooperation in following the measure, he said, adding enforcing the law straight away would lead to tension.
He reminded that the restriction was put in place after it was discovered many people caught the virus during group visits to restaurants and eateries.
Gen Nakpanich said the operators and staff at restaurants and eateries will be compensated for the disruption to their businesses.