Govt to lower Covid alert, ease curbs as infections slow

Govt to lower Covid alert, ease curbs as infections slow

Two boats pass each other on the Chao Phraya River in front of the Bangkok skyline on Monday. (AFP photo)
Two boats pass each other on the Chao Phraya River in front of the Bangkok skyline on Monday. (AFP photo)

The government will lower the Covid-19 alert level and is considering easing more restrictions to boost the economy, the health minister said on Tuesday, in response to a slower infection rate.

Among measures being considered are establishing more "sandbox" areas for tourists, who can skip quarantine if they stay in specified areas for seven days and undergo two Covid-19 tests.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters new sandbox areas could include Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Khon Kaen and Samut Prakan provinces.

The scheme, a calibrated move to rebuild the decimated tourism sector, currently operates in Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Koh Samui.

Mr Anutin added that the 'Test and Go' scheme that allows free movement to tourists who pass one Covid test on arrival could be revived as soon as February.

He said that since the number of coronavirus-related deaths and severe illnesses was in decline and the outbreak should soon be under control, the Covid-19 alert level will be lowered to 3, from 4, on the government's 5-level system.

He added the Public Health Ministry will on Thursday propose adjustments to the colour-coded control zones to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Adjustments in the capital would be decided by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).  

However, he said, nightclubs, pubs and bars will remained closed for now.

The country has recorded 2.3 million cases of Covid-19 and almost 22,000 deaths overall. Nearly two-thirds of residents are vaccinated and 13.5% have received boosters.

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