Walking Street in Pattaya is quiet now, but life is expected to return after pubs, bars and other entertainment facilities reopen their doors on Wednesday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
All night entertainment venues, including wet massage parlours, will open their doors again on Wednesday and some foreigners will be allowed into the country, but not tourists, as virus lockdown restrictions are further eased.
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday gave the greenlight for all remaining entertainment facilities to reopen from Wednesday. They include pubs and bars, karaoke bars, and bath-sauna-massage establishments. Health measures and monitoring will be required.
“It was widely debated,” CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said after the meeting.
All reopening premises will be required to use the Thai Chana platform, created to alert businesses and customers to any Covid-19 outbreak.
Investors and highly skilled workers from Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore will be allowed entry to the country on condition they enter a self-sponsored quarantine programme at private facilities arranged by the government. Short-term business visitors will be exempt from the requirement.
Foreigners who have family in Thailand, and those who have homes in the kingdom, will also be allowed to return, according to the spokesman.
Allowing in tourists from countries matched up with Thailand through a “travel bubble” did not get the full approval of board members of the CCSA, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said health safety measures still have to be ironed out for Thai tourists going to other countries, and foreign tourists arriving here.
The Disease Control Department and Foreign Ministry were still working on guidelines which were also acceptable to partner countries, which have different health requirements, said Mr Anutin, whose Bhumjaithai Party guides health and tourism policies.
Foreigners coming to Thailand for medical treatment will be permitted in from Wednesday, but they must be accompanied by their partner, and enter quarantine at the hospital they go to.
“Only some medical tourism programmes, not all of them, will be permitted,” Dr Taweesilp said.
The decision to open up more businesses, and some travel, was made after more than a month without any new local infections being recorded in Thailand.
The meeting also agreed to extend use of the emergency decree until the end of July.
Restrictions were earlier lifted on restaurants, schools, malls and many sports activities – with enforcement of social distancing and body temperature checks.