Booze ban set to last 10 days

Booze ban set to last 10 days

Measure to prevent social gatherings

Shoppers throng the liquor section of a superstore after City Hall banned the sale of alcohol in the capital for 10 days starting on Friday in the latest bid to prevent social gatherings. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Shoppers throng the liquor section of a superstore after City Hall banned the sale of alcohol in the capital for 10 days starting on Friday in the latest bid to prevent social gatherings. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

City Hall has banned the sale of alcohol in the capital for 10 days starting on Friday in the latest bid to prevent social gatherings that could spread the highly-contagious coronavirus.

Bangkok governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang issued an announcement ordering the temporary closure of shops or places selling alcoholic beverages effective from today until April 20. However, they are still allowed to sell other goods.

The announcement also says that shops and street vendors selling food and beverages are allowed to provide takeaways only from 4.01am to 10pm except for restaurants in hotels which serve only in-house guests and food shops in airports and hospitals.

Supermarkets, convenience stores, and other similar stores are still allowed to open from 4am to 10pm, according to the announcement.

The announcement forced many people to flock to supermarkets on Thursday evening to hoard alcoholic beverages.

Ten other provinces have already imposed curbs on alcohol sales, such as Sakon Nakhon (from March 31-April 16), Chiang Mai (April 10-20), Rayong (April 3-15), Buri Ram (April 2-30), and Mukdahan (April 6-30).

Meanwhile, the government has also come up with measures to deal with the 14,000 Thais stranded overseas who are waiting to return to the country amid the global pandemic.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said on Thursday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had discussed the fate of Thais stranded in other countries with senior officials, especially after the government banned inbound flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has banned inbound flights until April 18 because many previous returnees were infected with Covid-19 and posed a risk of spreading the disease to local residents.

Some 12,771 Thais have returned and 14,664 others are registered to return. He said 5,453 were waiting for return flights and about 10,000 Thai citizens in Malaysia were waiting to cross the border which has been closed, said Dr Taweesilp.

Dr Taweesilp added the government would have to quarantine all returnees and they would have to take turns because the facilities can accommodate only 200 returnees a day.

"Everyone will be welcome, but the queue may be long. For those who can stay abroad without any trouble, please stay there longer. For those who have trouble, the government will offer financial assistance," he said.

The government is figuring out how much financial aid to provide as there are Thais stranded overseas while others are stranded near the border.

"Those who have accommodation and insurance should stay there longer because otherwise they would risk contracting the disease while queuing up at border checkpoints or while boarding planes," he said.

He said returnees must have a fit-to-fly health certificate and may have to undergo rapid tests before boarding planes, like the tests conducted in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has prepared 2,037 rooms for state quarantine and is searching for an additional 3,500 rooms.

The Interior Ministry has also prepared 460 facilities for local quarantine for over 13,000 people.

Bangkok and its adjacent provinces have 98 field hospitals ready but they still require 80 additional beds for intensive care to cope with the worst-case scenario, said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, about 180,000 favipiravir tablets have been imported and about 200,000 N95 masks have been bought for medical personnel.

Dr Taweesilp said Gen Prayut insisted that the nationwide curfew between 10pm-4am will remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, The CCSA on Thursday reported 54 new local cases of Covid-19, raising the total to 2,423 in 67 provinces, and two more deaths -- a Thai man, 82, and a Frenchman, 74 -- increasing the toll to 32.

Dr Taweesilp said the Frenchman had no chronic disease. He fell sick on March 27 with a fever, cough, exhaustion and abdominal pain.

He was treated at a hospital in Chon Buri province after initially being diagnosed with pneumonia but later tested positive for Covid-19. On Tuesday, he had trouble breathing and needed a ventilator, however, he died later the same day.

Meanwhile, the dead Thai man fell sick on March 25 with a fever of 38.5C and was treated at a hospital in Samut Prakan province.

On March 30 he became exhausted and required a ventilator but he later fell unconscious and died on Wednesday.

Dr Taweesilp said the 54 new cases included 22 people in close contact with previous patients, 11 of them in Bangkok.

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