Govt hardens Covid measures
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Govt hardens Covid measures

Call for everyone to work from home

The government has increased its Covid-19 controls, widening restrictions in "dark red" maximum- and strict-controls zones, calling for everyone to work from home for at least 14 days and extending the quarantine period for arrivals.

Six provinces will tomorrow be designated maximum- and strict-control zones, since their new infections are now topping 100 every week. They are Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai.

The goal is to prevent their surging infection rates from reaching neighbouring provinces, which have not yet been as badly affected.

"If we can curb the outbreak in Bangkok and adjacent areas, we can curb it throughout the country," Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said after attending a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Officials are most focused on infections among office workers and their close associates because they are still commuting, eating and holding meetings together, said Dr Taweesilp.

The government is therefore requesting a "100% level of support" for people to work from home.

The number of maximum-control areas (red zone) will rise from 18 to 45 provinces and orange, lower control, zones will drop from 59 to 26 provinces.

People in all provinces will be required to wear face masks when going out and fines will be imposed for those who break this regulation, albeit not too harsh, Dr Taweesilp said, advising people to heed health warnings and public service announcements.

Pubs, bars, karaoke parlours, night entertainment places and schools will be closed throughout the country. Malls will be allowed to stay open until 9pm with limited visitors but no promotional events. Parties will be banned, except for household and traditional functions, including funerals.

In dark-red zones, people must refrain from travelling to other provinces unless it is necessary, Dr Taweesilp said.

Sit-down dining will be allowed until 9pm in red zones and 11pm in orange zones, but with no sale or consumption of alcohol. In red zones, restaurants can take orders for takeouts until 11pm.

Convenience stores can open between 4am and 11pm in dark-red and red zones. The restriction will not apply in orange zones.

Limits on crowd activities are set at 20 people in dark red zones and 50 people elsewhere.

In dark-red zones, outdoor sports fields can open until 9pm but competitions must be free of spectators. Fitness clubs and gymnasiums will be closed.

Government and private organisations have also been asked to introduce their highest degree of working from home for at least 14 days.

"We have not imposed a lockdown or curfew. We are just seeking cooperation. The highest degree of working from home will be very helpful," Dr Taweesilp said.

Tomorrow will also mark the end of the shortened quarantine periods of 7-10 days earlier announced for arrivals vaccinated against Covid-19, and the return of 14-day quarantine for all arrivals.

Arrivals will not be allowed to leave their rooms except for medical treatment or Covid-19 tests.

Dr Taweesilp said strict disease-control measures will be relaxed if the infection rate slows over the next 14 days.

The goal is to procure vaccines for at least 70% of the Thai population. He was confident the whole country would be vaccinated by the year-end.

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