Bangkok schools closed, more places to follow

Bangkok schools closed, more places to follow

A woman places a golden leaf on a reclining Buddha image at Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram (Wat Pho) in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A woman places a golden leaf on a reclining Buddha image at Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram (Wat Pho) in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Schools under the administration of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have been ordered closed for two weeks while entertainment places, sports fields and flea markets will likely be shuttered from midnight Friday, according to City Hall.

Eateries may also be required to provide only takeaway service in the capital as City Hall stepped up its efforts to contain the spread of re-emerging Covid-19.

BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said on Friday Cital Hall was considering a slew of measures, ranging from extending school closures to shuttering all places where several people gather. An official announcement, however, has not yet been released.

City Hall's Education Department announced on Friday the closure of all schools until Jan 17 to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier, the BMA closed 14 schools in Bang Khunthian, Bang Bon and Nong Khaem districts from Dec 21 to Sunday. The districts are adjacent to Samut Sakhon, a cluster of the ongoing outbreak.

Its latest decision on Friday to shut all 437 schools in all districts underlines the seriousness of the outbreak in Bangkok.

In addition to schools, City Hall is considering closing more places, most which were ordered closed during the shutdown in the first quarter of last year.

In the wake of the second wave of local infections, the government has stopped short of ordering a blanket shutdown for fear of an economic toll.

Instead, it allows the governors of Bangkok and the provinces to consider measures that suit them best.

For the capital, Pol Capt Pongsakorn said the places to be shuttered were water parks, amusement parks, playgrounds, places where children play at markets, floating markets, snooker and billiard halls, game shops, internet shops, cockfighting rings and cockfighting training rings.

Others are nurseries; elderly nursing homes, except those which already offer overnight stays; martial arts schools; gymnasiums; horse-racing tracks; saunas; massage parlours; competitive-sports fields; banquet halls and similar places; bull-fighting rings, fighting-fish rings or similar places; amulet markets or centres, pre-school nurseries, any place providing skin-piercing services, all buildings at schools, tutorial schools or educational institutions.

Some of these places such as nurseries and some schools were also ready shuttered in an earlier order to be superseded by the new order, Capt Ponsakorn added.

Another issue which may affect a lot of people is a requirement for eateries to provide only takeaway orders.

“We will discuss it with the CCSA [Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration] on Monday. Since several people in Greater Bangkok commute to work in the capital, such a measure should be imposed in adjacent provinces as well and it should be in keeping with the government’s guidelines,” he said.

If approved, he said, the mandatory food takeaway order may come into effect on Monday so operators have some time to prepare themselves.

He also explained the designation of zones in the capital, which for the most part are under the second level of control.

Three districts, however, are designated as red zones with maximum control. They are Nong Khaem, Bang Phlat and Bang Khun Thian.

In a maximum control area, authorities may impose measures to ensure distancing is observed immediately as they see fit.

The country added 279 new infections on Friday, 20 of them living in Bangkok, with two cases linked to the Samut Sakhon cluster. One of the two deaths was a man living in the capital.

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