Govt lifts some bug controls

Govt lifts some bug controls

Indoor dining to be allowed with limits

The Mall Bang Kapi shopping centre is one of the malls in Bangkok and other red-zone provinces ordered to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
The Mall Bang Kapi shopping centre is one of the malls in Bangkok and other red-zone provinces ordered to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The government has eased Covid-19 restrictions on certain businesses and activities, including restaurants, shopping malls, beauty salons, massage shops and parks, starting Wednesday.

However, the government will adopt a "Covid-free setting" approach to ensure safety during the process.

Under this approach, businesses will be required to ensure strict social distancing, proper air ventilation, good hygiene, weekly Covid-19 screenings for staff members and full vaccination for employees as soon as possible.

According to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), customers who have been fully vaccinated are classified as "green cards", referring to people who are allowed to receive services.

Indoor air-conditioned restaurants will be allowed to resume dine-in services at 50% capacity, while those without air conditioning can resume dine-in services at 75% capacity, according to Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the CCSA on Friday.

She was speaking after a CCSA meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the director of the CCSA.

"Eateries ready to resume dine-in services will still be required to close at 8pm every day and prohibit the serving and selling of alcoholic beverages, similarly to shopping malls and convenience stores, which also have to close at 8pm," she said.

"As for customers, they will be checked to see if they have been [fully] vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 with a rapid antigen test kit before receiving these services," she said.

Dr Kiattiphum Wongworajit, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, earlier said customers who will sit in restaurants must be free from Covid-19.

They have to show vaccination certificates, while those who had been infected must have tested negative for at least one month and not more than three or else they would need to undergo an antigen rapid test before being eligible to be served.

As for beauty salons and barbers, Dr Apisamai said operators will only be allowed to offer haircuts and spend no more than one hour on each customer.

"Travelling from one province to another is still not recommended unless necessary, while public transport [vehicles], such as buses and vans, will be required to [cap the number] of passengers at no more than 75% of all seats."

She said since the outbreak situation has yet to improve significantly, work-from-home measures and the 9pm-4am curfew will remain in effect for at least two weeks.

"The easing of these Covid-19 restrictions on businesses in 29 dark-red provinces will come as an effort to adjust Covid-19 control measures to improve the balance between public health safety and economic rehabilitation," she said.

The Public Health Ministry meanwhile expects the first batch of its 8.5 million Covid-19 antigen test kits (ATKs) from China to arrive in the next two weeks. It is believed the mass ATK import will make them more affordable.

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