Nonthaburi province, a part of Greater Bangkok, yesterday imposed a curfew banning people from leaving home between 11pm and 5am until further notice in a fresh bid to stem the surge in coronavirus infections in the province.
Confirmed cases of infections in Nonthaburi, which is located northwest of Bangkok, rose to 79 yesterday, second to the capital which topped the list with 796.
Nonthaburi governor Sujin Chaichumsak issued an announcement imposing the regulation, citing the government's emergency decree invoked earlier and the rapid increase in infections in the province.
The 2005 Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations empowers the government to impose a state of emergency for up to three months which may be renewed.
Once implemented, every agency's jurisdiction in preventing and mitigating the situation is transferred to the prime minister.
If the situation continues at this rate, the number of patients will overwhelm hospitals and medical personnel, the governor said in the announcement.
However, those who deliver goods and people with urgent needs are exempted, it added.
The Mae Hong Son governor yesterday also ordered a ban barring local residents from leaving their homes and outsiders from entering the province from 10pm to 4am until April 15.
Meanwhile, the government is considering a crackdown on the sale of alcoholic beverages in order to curb public gatherings and slow the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting via teleconferencing, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said that the Interior Ministry and other relevant ministries authorised by the emergency decree will consider banning alcohol sales, sporting events and gambling, as well as preventing people from entering and leaving provinces with rising numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Police, soldiers and civilian authorities will be instructed to enforce strict compliance with the ban, the prime minister said.
Gen Prayut also said that he had told the Transport Ministry to consider cutting all public transport services if there are still movements of large crowds of people, particularly those who have been fleeing Bangkok for their home provinces, in the wake of the partial lockdown and invocation of the emergency decree.
He also said that the use of the executive decree will be reviewed after the first month of its enforcement on April 30. If necessary, it may be renewed for a second and third month, and tougher measures taken, Gen Prayut said.
"Therefore, it is unlikely that the emergency decree will be lifted any time soon," he said.
The Public Health Ministry yesterday reported 127 new coronavirus cases and one death, raising the number of confirmed infections in Thailand to 1,651 since the country's first case was reported in January. Ten people who tested positive for the coronavirus have died.
Bangkok has the highest number of confirmed cases with 796, followed by Nonthaburi (79), Phuket (55) and Yala (48), permanent secretary for public health Sukhum Karnchanapimai told a press briefing at the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
Dr Sukhum said that more than 200 Covid-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals, leaving 1,299 active cases remaining in care. He described the number of recoveries so far as "good news".
In related developments, Samut Prakan governor Chatchai Uthaiphan yesterday ordered the closure of convenience stores in the province between 11pm and 5am, and for all people to wear face masks while outside their homes until April 30.
Under the order, when open, convenience stores must make sure queuing customers stay at least one metre apart from each other in front of cashier counters and provide hand sanitisers, while customers and shop assistants are required to wear face masks at all times.
In Udon Thani, the provincial governor, Nirat Pongsitthithaworn, ordered a similar closure of all restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, between 10pm and 5am until April 30.
Sakon Nakhon governor Monsit Phaisarnthanawat yesterday also issued an announcement banning the sale of alcohol until April 16. The move is designed to curb group drinking at home, a popular tradition among rural Thais.