Ban on overseas entry to stay
'Low-risk' local flights don't need distancing
From Monday, there will be no night curfew, but strict controls under the emergency decree will continue to be enforced especially on entry into Thailand because Covid-19 is still present in other countries, a senior government spokesman announced on Friday.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said the curfew would be lifted on June 15 to allow local people to travel, because there had been no cases of local coronavirus infection for some time now.
However, the emergency decree remains in effect and the government would maintain controls on all entry -- by land, water and air -- because all new Covid-19 patients were people returning from other countries, he said.
The CCSA had also agreed on other aspects of the fourth stage of relaxation of restrictions on business and other activities, effective from Monday, Dr Taweesilp said.
International, cram and informal schools, as well as small formal schools with no more than 120 students each will reopen. If there are larger numbers of students, they will have to submit management plans, according to a source.
Meetings and seminars, exhibition, convention and event halls can also resume activities, along with theatres, but social distancing must be observed.
Alcoholic beverages can be served at restaurants, food centres and hotels, but pubs, bars, karaoke shops and entertainment venues will remain closed.
Parlours offering Thai massage and saunas can reopen, with only a limited number of customers allowed to use facilities at the same time. Soapy massage parlours will remain closed. Group exercise in parks and other outdoor locations can resume, with up to 50 people participating.
Dr Taweesilp said domestic airlines can sell all seats on a flight, because planes have good ventilation systems and flights are short, about one hour. Becoming infected needs at least two hours of exposure to the coronavirus, he said. However, airline passengers must continue to wear masks.
However, occupancy rates on buses would be limited to 70% of seats, because bus trips are longer and their ventilation systems are poor, he said.
Water parks, playgrounds and amusement parks can reopen, except for ball pits and inflatable playgrounds, which are difficult to disinfect. Sports can resume, but without spectators. Game arcades in malls can reopen.
Officials would announce detailed measures of the relaxation this weekend before it takes effect on Monday. All businesses and activities that resume must be subject to disease-control measures, Dr Taweesilp said.
Panpimol Wipulakorn, director-general of the Department of Health, said that pubs and restaurants that have registered as eateries can reopen in the fourth stage of relaxation, while venues that will be allowed to serve alcohol on their premises must also have liquor sale licences.
Eateries which have licences to play live music can also reopen, but places that have registered as night entertainment venues will remain closed, Dr Panpimol said.
"Eateries will still have to comply with disease-control measures, especially mask-wearing, providing hand sanitisers, regular cleaning, physical distancing, and limiting the number of visitors, as well as using the Thai Chana app for check-ins and check-outs," she said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that when the fourth stage of relaxation takes effect from Monday, he hoped that it will reinvigorate the economy and more people will go back to work.
"I have sympathy for people on low incomes. I believe they will earn more money after the lockdown easing on June 15. The government cannot afford to find money to look after people forever," the prime minister said.