Businesses gear up for June boost


THAILAND: More activities and medium-sized businesses which have been temporarily halted or closed since late March will be allowed to resume next month, as the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) mulls a further easing of government-imposed restrictions ordered to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said yesterday (May 11) the centre, which is headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will consider on Friday three broad categories of activities and businesses which will be allowed to resume under what he called the “Phase-2 lockdown”.

On the list are advertisement production, sports competitions without spectators, restaurants, food shops in office buildings, public libraries and department stores. Entertainment venues inside malls, such as movie theatres, are excluded.

That said, a government source close to the CCSA said that shopping malls may not be included in the Phase-2 lockdown, which is set to take effect on May 17.

Authorities have set a rough timeline for the gradual lifting of lockdowns, with the third phase likely to be announced in early June. The final phase, which is expected to be announced in mid-June, will see “all businesses and activities” reopening, the source said.

Dr Taweesilp admitted that as of now, the list of activities and businesses which will be allowed to reopen in the second phase of easing are still subject to change.

“Many discussions are still needed among health and security authorities, as well as experts from the National Economic and Social Development Council,” the spokesman said at yesterdy’s daily briefing on COVID-19 infections.

They need to discuss the easing of restrictions thoroughly and carefully, as what they suggest will impact public health guidelines, he said.

One factor that will be taken into consideration is whether the six types of businesses and activities which have been allowed to resume since May 3 have strictly followed mandatory health guidelines to prevent a new round of COVID-19 infections, he said.

Markets, food shops, street stalls and hair salons (including pet groomers) are among the businesses that were allowed to reopen on May 3. Outdoor exercises and non-contact sports were also allowed.

The latest rounds of inspections conducted on May 10 found that 5,644 or or 30.4% out of the 18,512 venues which reopened on May 3 failed to comply with mandatory health guidelines, with 449 or 2.37% found to be ignoring hygiene practices.

The numbers were slightly lower than violations found between May 3-9, during which 109,425 venues were checked, according to the CCSA.

In the Phase-2 lockdown, though the green light to resume will be given to certain businesses and activities, both operators and people are still required to strictly follow health guidelines.

For example, Dr Taweesilp said, a commercial advertisement shoot can only have five people on set in order to maintain social-distancing guidelines.

The same CCSA source said yesterday he did not believe shopping malls will be allowed to reopen under the Phase-2 lockdown, saying they should instead be among the last businesses to resume normal operations.

Claims which stated that shopping malls will reopen around the middle of this month probably came from “shopping mall owners who wanted to test the waters”, he said.

“The reopening of department stores will depend on whether people can take care of themselves,” the source said, adding their public awareness is crucial to prevent new outbreaks.

However, according to Dr Taweesilp, hundreds of people have continued to defy the curfew order. As of late on Sunday, the numbers of curfew violators stood at 597.

At least 89 people gathered illegally – with 55% of cases involving alcohol and parties.

Meanwhile, the CCSA yesterday reported six new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Thailand to 3,015 since the outbreak of the virus. No additional deaths were reported, leaving the accumulated toll at 56, said Dr Taweesilp.

Another two people recovered, bringing the total number of discharged patients to 2,796.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on May 12, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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