Bangkok plans to reopen some businesses as virus cases reduce

Backpacker haven Khaosan Road in Bangkok is empty due to the coronavirus restrictions. (Bernama pic)

BANGKOK: Authorities in Thailand’s capital plan to lift coronavirus curbs over the next few days or weeks for some businesses, ranging from restaurants and hair salons to pet groomers, a city official said on Tuesday, as the pace of new infections slows.

Many businesses in Bangkok have spent more than a month under closure orders, crippling the economy. The re-opening date was not clear as details remain to be worked out, but will be announced on Wednesday, a civic administration spokesman said.

“It will not be a return to normal like before,” said the spokesman, Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, adding that markets, sporting grounds, public parks, medical facilities and golf courses are also among the services eligible to re-open first.

“All activities in these places will be regulated,” he said, adding that the announcement would set out strict social distancing measures and other rules to prevent a fresh virus outbreak.

On Tuesday, Thailand reported seven new infections and two more deaths for a tally of 2,938 cases and 54 deaths since the outbreak began in January, while 2,652 patients have recovered.

The numbers fit a trend of fewer new cases, down from past weeks in which more than 100 were recorded each day.

The government is considering how to relax curbs nationwide, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said, while urging people to keep up vigilance against the virus.

Since emerging in China late last year, the virus has spread worldwide, causing more than 3 million infections and over 210,000 deaths.

To fight the virus, Thailand declared a state of emergency and curbs on movement between its provinces as well as nighttime curfew nationwide, along with a ban on incoming international passenger flights.

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