Restaurants say latest reopening rules impractical for staff and increase costs
Restaurant operators slammed the government's latest round of Covid-19 measures for eateries and restaurants, saying the requirements are impractical and will only serve to increase their financial burdens.
On Friday, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced the easing of Covid-19 restrictions on certain businesses in dark-red zone provinces from Wednesday onwards.
Restaurants are allowed to resume dine-in services, at 75% capacity in outdoor dining spaces and 50% in air-conditioned locations.
But all service staff must have two doses of vaccine and be tested with antigen test kits every 5-7 days.
The guidelines also require customers to show proof of vaccination before entering restaurants.
Panumas Ruamsuk, president of the Food Business Operators Association in Samut Songkhram, said the measures will be damaging to some business operators as they will have to fork out to cover the cost of the test kits.
Workers at eateries have mostly received only one shot, although in some shops, their workers have not received a single shot, he said, adding that Samut Songkhram is a small province which has a small share of vaccine allocations.
"We have called for adequate vaccine allocations several times, but we are still ignored,'' Mr Panumas said. Easing the curbs will be of little help to businesses in Samut Songkhram, he added.
Many eateries in the province are expected to remain closed as they cannot comply with the CCSA's latest directives, he said.
However, Thaniwan Kulmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurant Association, said the latest easing was agreed upon at a meeting attended by the association's representatives last Tuesday, as well as the public health minister and senior public health officials.
She said the decision was reached in light of signs of improvement, with more vaccines supplies expected to arrive. Originally, the CCSA planned to ease the curbs in October, but operators could not wait until then, she said.
Ms Thaniwan said the CCSA had provided only a broad picture of the latest requirements, but detailed guidelines will be issued by the Department of Health.
She added that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told the meeting that more antigen test kits will arrive soon.
They would be handed out free of charge as soon as there are enough for all those who need them.