Entertainment venues are among a wide range of establishments that have been ordered to close from midnight in the wake of the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
The tightening of measures by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) was announced on Friday as two more COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 63.
Speaking after an urgent meeting of the Bangkok communicable disease committee, BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said new infection clusters had been found and linked to entertainment venues and other premises.
The committee had therefore decided to order many more closures with immediate effect -and with no end date.
The places to be shut are entertainment venues, water parks, amusement parks, playgrounds, places where children play at markets, flea markets, floating markets, snooker and billiard halls, arcade game premises, game shops, internet shops, cockfighting rings and cockfighting training rings.
Other establishments are nurseries, elderly nursing homes (except those which already offer overnight stays); martial arts schools, gyms, horse racing tracks, public baths, bath-saunas-massage parlours, sports fields, banquet halls and similar places, bull-fighting rings, fighting-fish rings or similar places, amulet markets or centres, pre-school nurseries, any place providing skin-piercing services, plus all buildings at schools, tutorial schools and educational institutions.
Many of these places, including nurseries and some schools, had already been shut but the new order supersedes all previous ones, said Pol Capt Kwanmuang.
One issue yet to be resolved is whether to limit eateries to provide takeaway orders only.
“We will discuss it with the CCSA on 2nd January,” the officer added.
“Since several people in Greater Bangkok commute to work in the capital, such a measure should be imposed in adjacent provinces as well.”
If approved, he said, the mandatory food takeaway order may not come into effect anyway until Monday, giving operators some time over the weekend to prepare.
Pol Capt Kwanmuang then turned to Bangkok’s designation of restrictions, which for the most part are under the second-highest level of control.
Three districts, however, have now been designated as red zones with maximum control: Nong Khaem, Bang Phlat and Bang Khunthian.
In these areas, district office directors can impose measures to curb the spread of the infection as they see fit.
The BMA’s education department announced yesterday it was widening its closure order to all schools under its supervision until 17th January to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier, the BMA had only closed 14 schools in Bang Khunthian, Bang Bon and Nong Khaem districts from 21st December until tomorrow
The districts are adjacent to Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of the current outbreak.
Its latest decision on Friday to shut all 437 schools in all districts underlines the seriousness of the outbreak in Bangkok.
This was reflected in the CCSA’s latest figures, two more COVID-19 deaths and 279 new infections, amid worries the trend will continue as more people have been travelling during the New Year holiday.
The new fatalities were a man, 44, who had visited a restaurant in Bangkok on 20th December and a 70-year-old man who illegally entered from Myanmar into Mae Sot district, Tak on 29th November.
Of the new cases, 257 were spread over 53 provinces.
They included those linked to the clusters in Samut Sakhon (3), Rayong (2) and Chon Buri (1).
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin warned the situation remained serious and it could take some time for authorities to bring it under control.
“Do not expect the spread to end today or tomorrow,” he said, adding he expected the situation to ease in mid-February.
Meanwhile, the wife of infected Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vichitsaengsri is also reportedly being treated for COVID-19.