The government said on Wednesday that this year’s New Year countdown celebrations may have to be divided into small zones with a limited number of participants, amid fears that it would be difficult to control the spread of COVID-19 if a large crowd were allowed to gather at a single spot.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will today discuss this and other proposals for the upcoming New Year festivities said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The PM said he had emphasised to the CCSA that splitting the New Year’s Eve celebrations into different zones might be the best way of preventing any possible spread of the coronavirus.
“It would be unsafe to allow a crowd of tens of thousands of people to come together and impossible to ensure that everyone there strictly follows the COVID-19 prevention regulations imposed on them,” he said.
“Separating revellers into small zones should instead make it more possible to screen every attendant and register them all via a mobile phone application for COVID-19 tracking in the event of new infections later emerging.
“I’m not intending to damage anyone’s parties I just to pick the best choice to ensure total safety for this year’s celebrations.”
However, Gen Chan-o-cha stressed the final decision lay with the CCSA.
Meanwhile, the organiser of a concert in Phetchabun’s Khao Kho district, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations during the cold season, has called off the event over COVID-19 concerns.
Concert organiser, Aphisak Akhana, said the event set down for 15th January had been postponed indefinitely and those who had already bought tickets would be refunded.
He said the main reason for the cancellation was that he could not ensure the COVID-19 prevention measures he had prepared would be effective once a huge crowd had gathered.
Wutthichai Rotchanathipphayarak, president of Phetchabun’s tourism association, said concerns had been raised after what happened at the Big Mountain Music Festival in Nakhon Ratchasima last weekend.
Nakhon Ratchasima’s deputy governor has asked police to prosecute the organisers of the music festival after its second day went ahead in defiance of an order by the provincial governor that it be cancelled.
The organiser of the Big Mountain Music Festival on Wednesday apologised to fans, authorities, the provinces and his colleagues for the abrupt ending to the event.
Yuthana Boonorm posted a Facebook message blaming himself for the cancellation after organisers failed to enforce strict measures to contain the coronavirus.
“I could not manage everything as planned, especially measures to prevent COVID-19 that should have been more stringent and carried out with better efficiency,” he wrote.
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said in Wednesday’s daily update on the COVID-19 situation that a total of 67 people had been confirmed to have contracted the virus after a number of Thais returned illegally from Myanmar’s border town of Tachileik.
Pol Col Natthawut Saengduan, chief of Chiang Rai’s immigration police, said he was seeking to take legal action against 11 people responsible for causing new COVID-19 infections in Thailand after they had illegally re-entered Thailand.
A source said one more suspect, a resident of Phichit, was late Wednesday included in the police complaint, bringing the total number of people facing charges to 12.
The number of healthcare workers contracting the coronavirus while working at a privately run alternative state quarantine facility remained at seven last night.
These infections, however, were of particular concern after the Disease Control Department found traces of the new coronavirus on the facilities’ doorknobs, said Dr Visanuyothin.