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Possible 9 pm closing of Bangkok bars to curb Covid-19

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Photo: Food stalls in the Thong Lor area

In order to limit outbreaks of Covid-19 before the upcoming Songkran holiday, the Health Ministry is eyeing more restrictive rules, including possibly shutting Bangkok bars at 9 pm. This week, new infections were found in the Thong Lor and Ekkamai areas of Bangkok, popular for evening entertainment such as bars and nightclubs. Entertainment venues are an easy target for Coronavirus spread due to loose enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions and often ventilation issues. The Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister said that a 48% positivity rate came from the nightclub clusters. Authorities may even consider closing some of the clubs in the areas with new outbreaks. A similar situation occurred last year when a Covid-19 outbreak tore through Bangkok’s nightlife scene. Nearly a quarter of all Thai Coronavirus infections reported Monday were found in Bangkok.

Following a string of stringent restrictions and rules to contain an outbreak that happened last December, Thailand had slowly been recovering and easing regulations, but some may be on their way back. With Songkran and then summer – much of Thailand’s peak travel periods, especially with plans to loosen quarantine restrictions for international travellers – the government will likely tighten restrictions to stop the recent surge in infections. More Covid-19 cases are expected because of the popularity of celebration and travel during the Songkran Festival. And fears of a third or even fourth wave of outbreaks has the government and medical officials worried.

Meanwhile, the director-general of the Department Of Disease Control says the Health Ministry is suggesting that nightclubs, bars, and even restaurants in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces close at 9 pm every day. They are also proposing a ban on selling alcoholic beverages. This advice will be submitted to the Centre For Covid Situation Administration subcommittee on Wednesday, with the recommendation that these restrictions be put in place for 2 weeks. Vaccination is still a priority in the fight against Covid-19 as well, but only about 42,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Thailand amongst the 240,000 jobs that have been injected so far. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration hopes to fast track vaccinations for the workers and residents of districts that are busy with evening entertainment venues.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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