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Thailand’s Songkran headache – Bangkok entertainment venues closed days before holiday

Tim Newton

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Thailand’s Songkran headache – Bangkok entertainment venues closed days before holiday | Thaiger

In the day’s before Thailand’s biggest annual party begins there’s been fresh clusters breaking out in Bangkok and Chon Buri’s nightlife.

Already the BMA has closed nightlife venues in three popular districts “as a precautionary measure” for at least two weeks, as of last night. Officials will meet today to mull a blanket closing time for entertainment venues and restaurants across Bangkok as well as alcohol restrictions… not the sort of start the hospitality industry was hoping for with Songkran kicking off this weekend.

The Thai government had already taken the ‘song’ out of Songkran with a ban on water splashing, concerts and group gatherings, including foam parties. The inference is officials want a return to a more traditional Songkran, visits to temples and gentle pouring of water over elderly relatives and Buddha images. They certainly wanted to avoid group gatherings and super-spreader events.

The Thaiger’s full coverage of Thailand’s Covid-19 response HERE.

After last year’s cancellation of Songkran, the ban on Songkran parties certainly ‘poured cold water’ on the plans of millions of Thais celebrating their new year festivities. These new bans on entertainment venues in popular city party haunts is just another blow.

And whilst there have been new infections reported in Chon Buri, it hasn’t yet affected Pattaya and its entertainment cash-cow. But it may just be a matter of time before officials just put a blanket ban on Thailand’s nightlife until they get the latest outbreak under control.

Songkran means ‘travel’ as workers will flee the city for ‘up country’ homes to spend the extended Songkran holiday with family. The headache for officials is that the clusters in Bangkok and inner-city suburbs could easily spread into other provinces. Cancelling much of the Songkran ‘splashing’ won’t stop Thais from travelling home during the period – airlines are already heavily booked.

Yesterday, Dr Yong, the chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, warned about a third or even fourth wave of Covid that may emerge as a result of the government policy to encourage people to enjoy themselves and spend more during the upcoming Songkran festival.

“Be prepared to see the daily infection rates jump from tens to hundreds per day after the Songkran festival.”

The past week Thai media has been full of all the hoopla and announcements of the 3-part re-opening plans for the country, inviting tourists from around the world to flock back to Thailand. Now officials will be forced to keep a brave public face and continue with their re-opening schedule whilst facing a rise in cases from Bangkok’s entertainment zones and a potential ‘Songkran spread’.

Today the CCSA reported 250 new Covid infections, 245 of them locally transmitted and 5 imported. Thailand has reported a total of 29,321since January 2020, 95 deaths and 27,840 recoveries.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    gigi

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Instead of going out in the open, I don’t open, like the daisy game, Why they don’t think about a project like: well, vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists are welcome with tests done at departure and arrival without quarantine and in case of infection, we offer free hospital medical assistance !!! Obviously everyone will have to wear a mask and keep a safe distance !!!

  2. Avatar

    Anthony Gallagher

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Yes the Thai Gov need to get a move on with the vaccine not just waiting for things to happen, its not going away and will be with us for years !!

  3. Avatar

    Steve

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Much as I understand about opening up Thailand for tourism and tourist places,shouldn’t ALL Thais be vaccinated too? Soon, I might be able to visit Phuket or Pattaya but not say Udon Thani/Khon Kaen because they are not “tourist” destinations. A bit silly.

  4. Avatar

    David Mann

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    Steve, they don’t want you to visit Udon or Khon Kaen. They have only ever wanted you to come to Thailand on holiday for 2 to 4 weeks. Spend as much money as you possibly can. Get on a plane and go home and repeat in 6 or 12 months time. If you move off the tourist route you may end up staying and that’s the very last thing the Thais want you to do.

  5. Avatar

    gigi

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    David, congratulation THE BEST COMMENT!!! Really!!!

  6. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Well to be fair Steve, you can already visit Udon Thani and Khon Kaen. You just have to do so after quarantining in an ASQ hotel for one week. That is if you are already vaccinated. The upcoming Phuket plan is basically the same thing, only are you trading being locked in a hotel room for being banned from leaving the island. Well at least for that one week time frame.

  7. Avatar

    James R

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 1:48 am

    David

    You mean like every other country in the world re the 2 to 4 weeks holiday?

    The UK gets 40 million tourists arriving and departing each year, do you really think we want them all to say on?

    That is roughly the same number of tourists as Thailand, if they all stay where are you going to put them? I doubt if many want to go to Issan though.

    Restaurants, the owners want customers to come in, eat pay and then leave so they can make money, I doubt if they then want them to move in with them.

    I am continually amazed at the bizarre comments some people make.

  8. Avatar

    david jones

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:53 am

    the thai population is about 75million or so , i can understand that it is difficult for them to get hold of vaccines and knowing about thailand nothing is free so how are they going to vaccinate the population and open up for tourists ? i wish them well but i cant see many going to go through all the red tape to go on holiday . if you have family and property that would be different

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Bangkok. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Tim Newton

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger

…. before the next round of restrictions come into force at midnight tonight.

Bangkok and 17 other Thai provinces (there are 77 in total) are now declared maximum control areas. These “red zones” are the feature of the Thai Government’s new restrictions to get a grip on its rising Covid infection numbers since the start of April. The restrictions will last for at least 14 days.

From tonight, at midnight, some new restrictions are in force, not only in the red zones but every where else.

Think nightlife, think gatherings of more than 50 people, think restaurants. These are the area the government has generally targeted. The CCSA spokesperson yesterday, and the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, went out of their way to portray the new restrictions as NOT curfews and NOT lockdowns. But, if you live in a red zone province, including Bangkok, then the new set of restrictions are a lockdown in just about every sense without outright telling people to stay at home.

Everything will have to be closed from 11pm – 4am in the morning, including all convenience stores. Hope you’ve paid your Netflix subscription!

Restaurants and cafes in the red zones will be able to open until 11pm, but dine-in services will only be available until 9pm. Takeaway food can be sold until 11pm to allow the businesses and activities to continue. And there will no alcohol available anyway.

The government is also advising businesses in Bangkok, and other red zone provinces, to allow employees to work from home, or have adequate precautions in place if they need to work in the offices.

Unlike the last two outbreaks of Covid within Thailand, this cluster has emerged from the indulgences of Bangkok’s hi-sos, celebrity and look-at-me culture. The trendy clubs around Thong Lor and Ekkamai are the destination for people that want, or need, to be seen, including some politicians who have either ended up infected or knew someone in the club and pub scene and have had to self-isolate.

The late evening sojourns, with nary a care for masks or social distancing, small spaces, lots of people… it has proven the perfect breeding ground for a new Covid cluster.

Bangkok’s legendary shopping centres and community malls will have to shut their doors by 9pm, a situation now across the board for all Thai shopping centres including places like your local Tesco mall.

But convenience stores, supermarkets, community markets can stay open until 11pm.

At this stage people are being advised to to travel to Bangkok, or any other red zone province, for the next 2 week (after midnight tonight). The travel advisory isn’t an order at this stage, more of a hurry-up-and-get-back-from-your-holidays request.

Last weekend saw the mass exodus out of the city. The same return from the provinces is happening today and tomorrow. Even though the official Songkran holiday ran from Tuesday to Thursday this week, plenty of people have take the Mondays and Friday off last week to end up with an extended 9 day holiday. The government was hoping the longer Songkran break would be a boon for the shattered hospitality and tourism businesses. But last weekends sudden climb of new Covid infections caused some people to cancel or postpone their bookings.

The annual Songkran road toll, usually a national disgrace, was cut by over 50% this year due to the lack of traffic and people deciding to wait it out and catch up with their families later.

Thailand recorded 1,547 new infections around Thailand today, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. But the last 4 days have revealed the largest list of daily infections since the first case was detected in Thailand on January 13 last year, a 61 year old Chinese passenger on a flight from Wuhan to Suvarnabhumi – the first known case of the novel coronavirus outside of China.

2 leading police from the Thong Lor police station have already been sidelined into inactive posts, a face-saving measure to show the government were being pro-active in reacting to the sloppy enforcement (or non-existent enforcement) of Covid precautions in the district’s active nightlife. Officials are also tracking down the owners of the nightclubs and bars for potential prosecution, principally around Bangkok and in Phuket where parties, promoted and run by a group called ‘Kolour’ ended up becoming Covid spreader events.

Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikipedia
At-risk members of Thailand’s Social Security scheme can get free Covid-19 tests in Bangkok starting tomorrow. The Ministry of Labour will provide the tests, covering members under Sections 33, 39, and 40 of the Social Security Act. The programme will be held at the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district.
The ministry expects to test up to 300 people per hour, with results to be received in 1 to 2 days. If anyone is found to be infected, they will be sent to hospitals under the Social Security scheme for free treatment. Currently, 81 hospitals are registered with the ministry, offering a total of over 1,000 beds.
At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid-19 patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

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Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx

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Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals in 2 of the hardest hit areas.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

The move to help accommodate hospitals was due to the army chief’s concerns over the recent 3rd wave, which has seen daily infections increase to the thousands. The chief instructed each army unit to provide extra beds and facilities to patients in each hospital after teaming with public health agencies.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

Since April 1 there has been a steady growth of new infections, described as the third wave in Thai media – much higher than the number of daily infections in the first and second waves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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