Thailand Relaxes Curbs to Reopen Most Schools, Businesses

Thailand’s Covid-19 taskforce approved loosening restrictions across the country to allow businesses and schools to resume operations as the biggest coronavirus wave to hit the nation eased in most regions.

A meeting of the panel, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, backed a proposal to reduce the number of provinces categorized as high-risk areas to five from 28 earlier and allow schools in nearly all districts to reopen, Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Taweesilp Witsanuyotin said. Most businesses, including restaurants, will be allowed to resume near normal operations, while high-risk establishments like bars and gambling venues will remain closed.

Thailand Relaxes Curbs to Reopen Most Schools, Businesses

Restrictions will remain in place for Samut Sakhon province, where the current wave of outbreak started mid-December, with hundreds of new cases still being reported over the past four days. Although capital Bangkok and its three surrounding provinces are still considered high-risk zones, more curbs can be eased by local authorities.

“We’re closely monitoring the daily outbreak situation in the country, and we’ll adjust the measures every month or sooner depending on the results,” Prayuth said at a briefing on Friday. The government continues to negotiate with manufacturers to secure more vaccines and confirmed orders are expected to arrive as scheduled, he said.

Thailand Relaxes Curbs to Reopen Most Schools, Businesses

Thailand found 802 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nation’s total tally 17,023, health ministry data showed Friday. Of the total cases, 12,786 infections have been reported during the new outbreak which began Dec. 15.

While the country is pushing ahead with lifting restrictions, the outbreak has affected consumption and domestic travels, adding to the government’s challenge of trying to revive an economy already hurt by the lowest foreign tourist arrivals in at least 12 years.

The government unveiled a series of stimulus measures this month, including $7 billion in cash handouts, to help counter the pandemic impact. The Finance Ministry on Thursday cut its economic growth forecast for 2021 to 2.8% from the 4.5% expected in October from the expected continued absence of foreign holidaymakers.

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