Firms request lax rules for revival

Firms request lax rules for revival

Lower infections an encouraging sign

CentralWorld prepares to reopen after being closed since March 30. The government will allow food outlets without air conditioning, barbers and hairdressers, fresh and flea markets, and shopping malls to reopen on May 4. Pornprom Satrabhaya
CentralWorld prepares to reopen after being closed since March 30. The government will allow food outlets without air conditioning, barbers and hairdressers, fresh and flea markets, and shopping malls to reopen on May 4. Pornprom Satrabhaya

Business leaders are coming out in support of the government's extension of the emergency decree and curfew for another month, but have requested easing business restrictions to restart the economy as new infection numbers dwindle.

The government has provided some easing of business restrictions by allowing food outlets without air conditioning, barbers and hairdressers, fresh and flea markets and shopping malls to reopen on May 4.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the federation agrees with the government's decision to extend the lockdown to drop new infection numbers to zero.

"FTI wants the government to consider more measures to cope with the spread of the disease under the emergency decree," he said.

Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice-chairman of FTI, said the group wants the government to allow some businesses to open in the tourism and services sectors because prolonged closures will drastically impact the nation's economic health.

He said the government should end the lockdown in some provinces where there are no new infections.

The FTI agreed with the government's decision to continue the curfew and limit inter-provincial travel.

Chonrungsee Chalermchaikit, president of the Federation of Thai SMEs, said the federation also agrees with the government's extension.

"Businesses and local economies need to operate under the lockdown," she said. "The federation believes businesses have adjusted and are following the government's lockdown measures."

Ms Chonrungsee said the government should start phasing out the lockdown in provinces with no infections to allow recovery to begin.

"The government should provide guidelines for small businesses like hairdressers, spas and retailers on how to reopen after the shutdown ends," she said.

Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the extension of the emergency decree for another month will not affect the tourism industry as all travel-related activities of foreign and local tourists were halted for months during the pandemic.

He said he supports the order to continue containing the virus, which will benefit the overall tourism industry as this sector can only return if the country is safe enough to travel.

Mr Chairat said even though some domestic flights can resume next week, local travellers will take fewer trips as the economy is still sluggish.

Chairit Simaroj, managing director of local oil retailer Susco, said the domestic retail oil market will improve if the lockdown ends.

He said Susco's refined oil sales volume dropped over 20% due to the decrease in land traffic caused by the lockdown.

"Jet fuel has been most affected, with sales dropping almost 90%, compared with diesel dropping 20%," Mr Chairit said.

Susco operates 240 oil pumps nationwide and the company has managed to retain all 2,000 staff members throughout the crisis.

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