The Public Health Ministry is seeking approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to allow restaurants to reopen to fully vaccinated diners as new infections have declined in the past few days.
"The Covid-19 situation appears to be improving. Certain restrictions should therefore be lifted," said Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, on Tuesday.
He made the remarks after Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul met with representatives from nine clusters of businesses that were ordered to close as infections across 29 provinces started to climb.
The ministry will ask the CCSA to consider allowing restaurants to offer dine-in service, with certain restrictions, Dr Kiattiphum said.
For instance, a restaurant would only be allowed fill half of its maximum capacity to enable social distancing, he said.
Other outdoor businesses, as well as fitness and sports clubs, will be next to reopen, he said.
Once reopened, restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses will be required to adopt a "Covid-free" approach in their trade. They will be required to set aside enough space on their premises to allow social distancing and ensure adequate ventilation.
They must assist their staff to get vaccinated and regularly test them for Covid-19, he said.
The Department of Disease Control is now mapping out the details of the latest Covid-19 restriction easing plan, he said.
Meanwhile, Supanavit Eiamsakulrat, a committee member of the Thai Shopping Centre Association, said the nine business clusters had asked the ministry to consider letting them reopen progressively starting from Sept 1.
In the first phase of the proposal, restaurants would resume dine-in services at 50% capacity.
Other businesses which can resume operations in the first phase include construction, furniture and home decoration shops, dental clinics, spa and massage parlours, medical clinics, beauty salons, IT and electronic shops, golf courses and other outdoor sports clubs, she said.
In the second phase, restaurants would be permitted operate at 75% capacity, while in the third phase, they will be allowed to reopen their entire dining area to customers. By then, Dr Kiattiphum said, all other businesses should be up and running.
Thailand recorded 17,165 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, said Dr Chawetsan Namwat, director of the Emergency Health Hazard and Disease Control Division. The pandemic appears to have passed its peak, which means the country can begin moving towards lifting Covid-19 restrictions while still monitoring the situation closely, he said.
Separately, Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the news that the supplier of the AstraZeneca vaccine has confirmed it will deliver 61 million doses to Thailand by the end of this year.