CHON BURI: Authorities have eased Covid-19 restrictions in this eastern province and Pattaya City, with more businesses allowed to resume normal operations tomorrow, including restaurants, pubs and bars.
The change was made after the area's status was changed from red to orange, where fewer restrictions apply. Similar easing has been approved in several other provinces as well.
However, hotels in the province have been ordered closed -- at the request of the hard-hit industry so employers and their workers can officially qualify for state financial assistance.
The provincial communicable disease committee, which also has jurisdiction over Pattaya, announced the easing of restrictions yesterday. Business operators, however, will be required to comply with the Public Health Ministry's preventive measures.
Schools and other education outlets will also be allowed to reopen with health precautions, and classes limited to 25.
Restaurants, pubs, bars and karaoke shops are allowed to stay open until 11pm. Convenience stores must close between 11pm and 5am.
Activities with more than 300 people are still not allowed. Officials will be sent to conduct health screening tests at entertainment venues every 14 days. Screening checkpoints at 17 locations in the province have been scrapped, but movements of migrant workers are still prohibited.
The governor of Chon Buri signed the hotel-closure order on Thursday, at the request of industry associations. If the hotels had closed voluntarily, they would not be eligible for compensation. With the formal order in place, hotel staff can now seek up to three months of unemployment benefits from the Social Security Office.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) approved the closure. Operators were asked to provide assistance to employees in a bid to encourage them not to travel outside the province.
Any hotels that still have guests in residence or want to stay open could make a special request to authorities in their district, according to the order.
Chon Buri has seen no new coronavirus cases since Jan 21. It has reported one death and 648 cases in total, with four remaining in hospitals.
Meanwhile, coronavirus control measures in Samut Sakhon will be eased tomorrow with markets, flea markets and eateries to be allowed to resume though under strict health safety protocols.
However, Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of the second wave, will remain a "strict and maximum" control zone, with other businesses and premises to remain closed as ordered by the CCSA.
The CCSA on Friday approved the easing of coronavirus restrictions in large parts of the country.
A widespread easing of restrictions will take effect tomorrow, although substantial controls remain in place throughout red-zone provinces in the greater Bangkok cluster and cockfighting and bullfighting remain banned nationwide, according to the CCSA.
In Samut Sakhon, markets and flea markets will be allowed to restart with limited numbers of customers while eateries will be open only until 9pm. No alcohol consumption on the premises is allowed, according to the CCSA.
Shopping malls can open until 9pm. Nurseries, elderly care centres, and hotels will be allowed to reopen under strict health safety measures, according to the CCSA.
Samut Sakhon deputy governor Thirapat Katchmat said the provincial disease control committee will issue a set of local directives in line with the CCSA's announcement.
Mr Thirapat also said strict disease control measures had been enforced in eight tambons at high risk of infections for the past three weeks. But in light of the CCSA's announcement, there will be no need for special controls there any more, Mr Thirapat said.
He also stressed the need to push the local economy as well as to contain the spread of the virus. During the past week, high numbers of confirmed cases have been reported as a result of active mass testing, Mr Thirapat said, adding most cases were detected among migrant workers at factories. Public health officials are aiming to test 10,000 people a day in Samut Sakhon.