The government will not impose a national lockdown despite overseas concerns about the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but the closure of entertainment venues will likely be extended, the prime minister said on Thursday.
Prayut Chan-o-cha said a nationwide closure was unnecessary. The government would cope by continuing to test arriving travellers for the new variant.
"Harsh measures are not necessary. There are RT-PCR tests and quarantine is required pending test results," he said.
The government needed to prioritise both public safety and the national economy. It was not easy to keep the balance. Under the circumstances, the government would delay its plan for antigen testing of arrivals instead of the RT-PCR tests, the prime minister said.
In the interests of public health, the government might also have to further delay the reopening of pubs, bars and karaoke shops, he said.
"We would like to wait and see for a month. In this matter, we must listen to doctors and health authorities," Gen Prayut said.
"Enclosed venues where crowds gather and drink pose high risks. That will be put on hold. Assistance measures will be proposed to the cabinet soon," the prime minister said.
When there is a new disease, there must be measures to cope with it, he added.
Gen Prayut confirmed that the government was tracing arrivals from southern Africa for Covid-19 tests, because Omicron infections were detected from that region.
He asked the public to inform the government if they know of the whereabouts of such people.
He said no Omicron case had been detected in Thailand to date.