Thailand Allows Malls to Reopen in Latest Loosening of Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand allowed shopping malls to reopen from Sunday in the latest leg of an economic restart after coronavirus cases dwindled.
Malls will have to close at 8 p.m., while cinemas and gyms must remain shut as part of ongoing efforts to restrain the pathogen, Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the Covid-19 center, said in a briefing Friday. Some other retail operations can also resume, he said.
Thailand remains under a state of emergency through May but began a phased easing its lockdown at the start of the month by lifting an alcohol ban and permitting restaurants to take dine-in customers. Some provinces have also allowed hotels to open their doors again.
The nation is returning to a “new normal” where “we still need to wear masks, clean our hands and keep social distancing practices as long as we don’t have a vaccine,” Taweesilp said.
Social distancing brought new infections under control but officials remain concerned about the risk of another wave of illness as people start moving around more freely. The country’s borders remain closed to most international flights, though domestic routes are firing up again.
The fallout from the pathogen has badly damaged Thailand’s usual engines of growth, tourism and exports, leaving it with Southeast Asia’s most precarious economic outlook this year.
Gross domestic product likely slid 3.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey ahead of an official economic report due May 18. The contraction is putting pressure on officials to ease the lockdown.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.