Malls set to open for longer

Malls set to open for longer

Shorter curfew also tipped next month

People rushed back to shopping malls on the first day of business resumption on May 17. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
People rushed back to shopping malls on the first day of business resumption on May 17. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A committee evaluating the easing of lockdown measures has proposed extending the opening hours of shopping malls and shortening the curfew period next month, according to a source at Wednesday's National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

The next stage of the loosening of the coronavirus lockdown could happen if the kingdom continues to record low numbers of new cases.

These are among proposals agreed at the meeting and will be forwarded to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) for a decision on Friday.

However, businesses and venues which are at high risk of Covid-19 transmissions, such as boxing stadiums and pubs, will remain closed and will be the last group to be allowed to reopen, the source said.

NSC secretary-general Somsak Roongsita chaired the meeting on Wednesday, attended by representatives of security, public health and economy-related agencies.

After five hours, the committee agreed the current curfew period of 11pm-4am would be shortened by one hour -- from 11pm-3am -- to help market traders who usually trade in the early hours, the source said.

The relaxation will also cover hair salons, beauty and massage parlours, the source said, adding that more than 50,000 massage parlours and about 200,000 massage therapists have been affected by the lockdown.

Other businesses and venues that will also be allowed to reopen include cinemas, gyms, zoos, convention and meeting venues, while opening hours of shopping malls will be extended from the current 8pm to 9pm, the source added.

However, these venues and businesses are required to put in place rigorous health safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the source said.

After heated debate, the committee decided that venues and businesses that are in the high-risk category will remain closed and reopen in the final stage of lockdown easing.

They include boxing stadiums, pubs, water park and amusement parks, the source said.

The source added the committee refrained from reopening boxing stadiums because public health officials expressed concern that even if boxing events are permitted without spectators allowed in, and broadcast live, boxing fans will still gather around televisions, which would put them at risk.

The next stage of relaxation means businesses allowed to reopen will be permitted to do more activities, not reopen other ones, the source said.

The source added the committee could not reach a conclusion on the reopening of schools, and it will raise the matter for discussion at Thursday's meeting.

The source also said the committee did not have any problem with the resumption of inter-provincial travel, though it instructed state agencies to come up with details about disease control measures for border provinces if the restrictions on travel are lifted.

The ban on entry into the country via all channels will remain in effect, the source added.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said the CCSA will meet to consider the proposal on Friday.

He added that even though new cases are falling, several carriers are asymptomatic, and the public must still follow health and social distancing guidelines.

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