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Restrictions imposed in areas at risk of a “public health crisis,” spokesperson says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Photo via Royal Thai Government

Disease control restrictions have tightened in Bangkok and surrounding provinces which are at risk of becoming a “public health crisis,” according to a Thai government spokesperson. The restrictions were published in the Royal Gazette over the weekend and went into effect today.

Of the restrictions set for the next 30 days, restaurants in Bangkok and surrounding provinces are prohibited from offering dine-in services. Construction camps are also required to be sealed off for the next month to slow the spread of the virus.

The sudden executive decision to impose the restrictions was made after PM Prayut Chan-o-cha had consultations with a “panel of independent experts” to address the recent surge of infections, particularly in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, as well as the southern-most provinces by the Malaysian border, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Information News Division director, Pensom Lertsithichai.

“We understand that the new measures in place have been announced quite suddenly, but such is the nature of this pandemic where changes can happen very quickly over the course of a few days.”

Due to the “surge in cases” and the number of patients admitted in hospital beds, the restrictions were necessary, Pensom says. Over the past week, the daily Covid count has been roughly between 3,000 and 4,000 cases. Today, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration reported an uptick of 5,406 new cases.

“The targeted Covid-control measures have become necessary as the Bangkok metropolitan region and its vicinities are at risk of developing a public health crisis.”

Under the restrictions, dine-in services at restaurants are not allowed in Bangkok or the surrounding provinces Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, and Nonthaburi. Only takeaway and delivery services are allowed.

Shopping centres in those areas must close by 9pm. Hotels and convention centres can remain open as normal, but no large gatherings or conferences can be organised, Pensom says. Gatherings in Bangkok and the surrounding area must be limited to no more than 20 people. Pensom says those who plan to hold an event with more than 20 people must seek permission from the government.

In Bangkok, several checkpoints are being set up to limit interprovincial travel, Pensom says.

Construction camps are being sealed off in the 5 central provinces as well as some camps at risk of an outbreak in Thailand’s Deep South including Yala, Pattani, Songkhla and Narathiwat.

Many clusters of Covid-19 have been reported at camps and Pensom says they are being sealed off as they’ve been “proven to pose risks.” Workers in the camps will receive compensation and the government will provide food and water.

The hashtag #ล็อกดาวน์กรุงเทพ, meaning “Bangkok lockdown,” was trending on Twitter over the weekend. Many made posts against the order to prohibit dine-in services for the next month, saying it will negatively impact restaurants. One post shared under the hashtag, which was later taken down, was a comic-book style graphic that had the word “lockdown” with a restaurant employee wearing an apron and a face mask, hanging by a noose.

While having been calling the new restrictions a “lockdown,” Pensom says that is not the case.

“There is no such lockdown as the media outlets have falsely reported, but there are new restrictions in place, and these restrictions are to directly and to immediately address in the problem areas, so they are very targeted.”

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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