Schools, stadiums to open next

Schools, stadiums to open next

A panel under the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday approved proposals for a return to normalcy in the country by allowing schools, sports stadiums, public transport and meals on flights, National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Gen Somsak Roongsita said.

The proposals approved by the Gen Somsak-led panel on measures to tackle Covid-19 under the CCSA, will now be tabled for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to approve on Aug 21.

They include the opening of schools with normal-sized classes with all students required to attend classes five days a week.

For sports events, people would be permitted to attend them, including going to boxing rings while public transport vehicles would no longer have to allocate empty spaces for social distancing.

However, Gen Somsak said the extension of entertainment venues' operating hours until 2am was not discussed at yesterday's meeting.

"Alcoholic drinks will be allowed for sale until midnight, anyway," he said.

Gen Somsak said the committee has agreed to allow sports fans back into competition venues under social-distancing rules and strict disease-control measures.

He said when the full reopening of schools is approved by the prime minister, travel restrictions on the public transport system will also be relaxed further to facilitate students' travel.

According to Gen Somsak, some of the proposals will have to be approved by the CCSA while some do not have to.

Gen Somsak said the committee has also agreed to allow Chinese fruit importers to resume visits to Thailand help stimulate the local economy. Even though they are required to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine, they do not have to inform authorities of their itinerary, he said.

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said students at schools would no longer have to stay 1.5 metres apart from each other and the number of students in each classroom would be allowed to exceed 25.

However, students will have to write down where they have been each day after school to help with tracking and tracing if there is a school outbreak.

"I am confident that the Thai public health system will be able to manage safety in the country and I urge teachers, parents and students not to forget to keep track of their whereabouts," Mr Nataphol told media yesterday.

The 100% school re-opening proposal does not have to be submitted to the CCSA but it needs to be approved by the premier, said the education minister.

Meanwhile, the CCSA yesterday reported 15 new cases of Covid-19 -- 14 quarantined returnees from the Middle East and one from Japan. All 15 were asymptomatic.

Dr Taweesilp said four had flown in from Egypt. They were Thai men aged 22, 23, 26, and 28 who arrived on July 24. They were quarantined in Chon Buri.

Ten new cases were from Saudi Arabia. Nine were Thai male students aged 24-28. The other was a Thai man aged 43 who worked at a factory.

They were quarantined in Chon Buri and tested positive on Wednesday.

The 15th new case was a Thai male worker aged 29, who arrived from Japan on July 31. He was quarantined in Samut Prakan.

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