Curfew, red zones may ease

Curfew, red zones may ease

Govt mulls further relaxing Covid rules

People take photos in front of Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok's Pathumwan district of Bangkok on Tuesday. Officials plan to allow shopping centres and other venues to organise events with at least 50 participants on Saturday. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
People take photos in front of Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok's Pathumwan district of Bangkok on Tuesday. Officials plan to allow shopping centres and other venues to organise events with at least 50 participants on Saturday. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The government may consider easing more restrictions on businesses and activities, including reducing the number of dark-red zone provinces and shortening the nighttime curfew by two hours from Saturday to prepare for the country's reopening next month.

Sources at Government House said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will today chair a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to assess the situation two weeks after a slew of virus curbs was relaxed on Oct 1.

The sources said the CCSA's operations centre will ask the meeting to mull easing further restrictions, for example shrinking the number of maximum and strict control zones to 24, "red" or maximum control zones to 29, and "orange" control zones to 24.

The centre will also propose shortening curfew hours, which were imposed to prevent the spread of infections, from 10pm-4am to 11pm-3am as of this Saturday until the end of the month.

Another proposal to allow meetings and cultural events to be held at convention centres, exhibition halls and similar venues in department stores or hotels is also expected, with limits to be imposed on the number of participants in each colour-coded zone, the sources said.

In dark-red zones, the number of participants will be limited to 50 while red zones will be capped at 100, orange zones 200 and "yellow" or maximum surveillance zones 300 people.

"Green" surveillance zones will be permitted to house 500 people or less, the sources said.

However, organisers must seek permission from provincial or Bangkok communicable disease committees first.

Upon approval, the events will be allowed to run until 10pm, the sources said, adding that daycare centres for the elderly will also be allowed to reopen.

The CCSA meeting will be asked to consider allowing foreign visitors from 10 countries with low infection numbers to enter Thailand without the need for quarantine, the sources said.

The centre will also discuss the preparations under way ahead of the country's reopening on Nov 1, and the resumption of entertainment venue operations on Dec 1.

In a televised broadcast on Monday, Gen Prayut said the government is weighing up whether to reopen the country to fully vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries without quarantine on Nov 1, in what is seen as a key effort to boost the economy.

However, international visitors will need to show they are Covid-free before they leave their home country, followed by another test clearing them of the virus in Thailand.

Gen Prayut said the government may also lift the ban on serving alcoholic beverages in restaurants and allow entertainment venues to resume operations on Dec 1.

Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the reopening plan was well-thought-out with solid action plans for all involved to follow.

The success of the Phuket tourism sandbox scheme means it will be used as a model, he said, urging the public and all sectors to cooperate.

Asked whether countdown events would be permitted on New Year's Eve, Mr Supattanapong said some are already planned for Phuket, while other provinces can submit their plans.

"Everyone must sit down. We have to move the economy forward and guarantee the public's health and safety at the same time," he said.

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