Bangkok shops to shut at midnight
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Bangkok shops to shut at midnight

Police to check decree compliance

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has ordered all shops and street vendors to close from midnight to 5am to fight the spread of Covid-19 in Bangkok which has the country's highest number of cases at 850.

The capital city is where almost 50% of the country's Covid-19 cases have been reported. The amount of Covid-19 patients nationwide was 1,771 on Wednesday, with a death toll of 12.

The closure of all stores including roadside shops, supermarkets, and 24-hour convenience stores, starting last night, is part of the latest lockdown measures imposed by City Hall to keep people off the streets and halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Also effective from Thursday until April 30, all public and private parks, including those at condos and in communities will also be closed to prevent large gatherings.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said all the shops must be closed at midnight and city officials will work with the Metropolitan Police Bureau to patrol the capital at night to ensure compliance.

Pol Gen Aswin insisted the BMA will not impose a curfew.

"The BMA has no authority to do so and it is the Covid-19 Administration Centre that has the power to impose curfew," he told media.

The stay-at-home order imposed by several provinces is not a curfew, he said. "It is them asking people for their cooperation to stay at home and refrain from non-essential travel," he said.

Nonthaburi has asked residents to stay at home between 11pm and 5am, citing an increase of Covid-19 cases in the province.

The Bangkok governor expressed concerns about people still going out to work, saying this group is vulnerable to contracting the virus and may spread it to others without them showing any symptoms.

He said the work-from-home measure has to be intensified and if the situation does not improve the BMA is ready to roll out further measures.

Pol Gen Aswin also said the BMA's communicable diseases control committee has decided against allowing mobile phone service centres, and mobile phone vending and repair shops to open in a bid to prevent large gatherings.

City Hall spokesman Pol Capt Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said City Hall decided to close public and private parks because people are still converging there.

"We understand these closure orders cause inconvenience to people but it is crucial to keep people at home. The situation is under constant review and the BMA will consider relaxing these restrictions if medical advice says we can," he said.

Pol Capt Pongsakorn said the BMA has agreed to waive rental fees for vendors at BMA-run markets to alleviate economic hardship until the situation improves.

For vendors at Chatuchak market, the BMA will ask the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to waive rent for six months from March to November, he said. The market is located on SRT land but managed by the BMA.

He said the BMA has also suspended all registration administration services except registration of births/deaths, marriages, divorces, and copying of house house registration and national identification documents.

People whose identification cards have expired are allowed to use the cards until July 31 while those who lose theirs are advised to contact their nearest district office to get a copy of their cards.

Elsewhere, Phangnga provincial authorities are expected to close entry and exit points as hundreds of people are traveling to the province after Phuket sealed off its border.

Governor Chamroen Thipayapongtada said the province has seen a rise in the number of travellers after the Phuket lockdown and it will issue an order barring people and vehicles from leaving and entering in a few days. He said the province will also order the closure of more venues and ask convenience stores to close from 10pm to 4am.

Nakhon Ratchasima has closed the 300-rai Suan Nam Bung Ta Lua, the largest park in the Northeast, until April 30 after large numbers of people flocked there for exercise activities.

Several provinces including Nakhon Phanom and Tak have extended the closure of entertainment venues until the end of the month after a two-week closure.

In Songkhla's Hat Yai district, people are asked to suspend Cheng Meng, the Chinese annual tradition of paying homage to ancestors, to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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