Restrictions To Be Relaxed In Dark Red Zones

Taweesilp Visanuyothin

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved the further easing of restrictions in “dark red-zone” provinces that are under maximum and strict control measures.

A shorter quarantine period of seven days has also been approved for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have proper vaccine certificates.

Several business activities are allowed to resume in the new phase of relaxations including nail salons, tattoo shops, spas and massage parlours, gyms, cinemas and live music performances in restaurants under strict disease control measures.

The other activities allowed to resume are nurseries, child development centres, public libraries, museums and learning parks/centres.

Shopping malls, convenience stores and fresh markets can extend business hours until 9pm.

People wanting to use tattoo shops, spas and massage parlours must be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before receiving services.

Cinemas are allowed to operate at 50% capacity or have the audience seated at least one metre apart. No eating is allowed in cinemas and face-making wearing is mandatory at all times.

For live music shows in restaurants, the number of musicians is limited to three and musicians must wear face masks at all times except when singing.

Business operators must adopt a “COVID-free setting” approach to ensure safety including strict social distancing, proper air ventilation, good hygiene, and COVID-19 screenings for staff members and full vaccination for employees as soon as possible.

However, trade exhibitions, conference centres, game arcades, amusement and water parks remain closed to avoid large gatherings.

The emergency decree, which is due to expire on 30th September, will be extended for another two months until the end of November to facilitate the control of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, CCSA spokesman, said certain businesses and activities in the strictly controlled “dark red” provinces are allowed to resume under tight measures.

“The curfew remains but is shortened by one hour from 9pm to 4am to 10pm to 4am for at least 15 days. The emergency decree is extended until the end of November,” he said.

Dr Visanuyothin said visitors who are fully vaccinated will be quarantined for seven days while quarantine will last 10 days for people without a vaccine certificate who arrive by air.

Quoting the prime minister, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Monday the sandbox programme is likely to expand to prepare the country for reopening to tourists.

He said the prime minister likewise asked the Public Health Ministry to consider measures to help the local entertainment industry and folk arts community recover.

According to Mr Wangboonkongchana, the premier also asked state agencies to identify and evaluate lessons learned from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Thaniwan Kulmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurant Association, has expressed disappointment over the relaxed curfew measure, saying one extra hour is not enough to help businesses recover.

The group wants the CCSA to allow restaurants to stay open until 10pm instead of 9pm.

However, Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, on Monday welcomed the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

He said it would restore business confidence in the fourth quarter while reflecting the public health system’s readiness to keep the outbreak under control.

Mr Angubolkul said the Thai Chamber of Commerce has estimated the volume of economic activities in October will increase to 10-12 billion baht per day and the relaxed measures will help with the economic turnaround.

He also urged the public to have confidence in the country’s reopening plan, saying it is a collaboration between the private and public sectors with health safety being the top priority.

Mr Angubolkul said the continued rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 coupled with lowered prices of antigen test kits (ATKs) will further boost confidence among businesses and the general public.