Restaurants, markets to reopen as Bangkok relaxes COVID-19 control measures

BANGKOK (CNA) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will relax certain COVID-19 control measures in the Thai capital as its order to temporarily close venues with risks of infection comes to end today.

Its spokesperson Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said eight types of venues will be allowed to resume operations, including restaurants outside department stores and supermarkets, public and private parks, hair salons and barbershops, golf courses and driving ranges as well as sports venues for running, tennis and badminton.

Markets, clinics and pet grooming businesses are also in the list.

“The reopening date will correspond to the one that Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration will announce in a day or two,” Mr Pongsakorn said yesterday, following a meeting with the Bangkok Communicable Disease Committee.

According to Mr Pongsakorn, operators who will benefit from Bangkok’s relaxation of its disease control measures will be required to follow various regulations to ensure hygiene and reduce risks of the COVID-19 transmission.

A vendor wearing a face mask drives an auto rickshaw with vegetables for sale at a market in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: AP

At restaurants, for instance, body temperature screening will be required before entry. Customers will be seated at least 1.5m from one another and live bands will not be allowed.

Toilets will need cleaning every hour while tables and chairs will have to be disinfected every time after each use. Air-conditioned eateries will have to open their doors and windows every two hours for cleaning and ventilation.

“Restaurant employees must tie their hair and wear gloves, caps, aprons, face masks and face shields. Any employee feels unwell, has a fever, cough or has a body temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher must stop working and see a doctor,” Pongsakorn said, adding that restaurants inside department stores and supermarkets are not included in the partial relaxation.

For hair salons and barbershops, only cut, shampoo and blow-dry will be allowed.

Customers will be required to make a reservation in advance as queuing will not be allowed at the venue. Disinfection of equipment will have to take place after each use and each service can only last up to two hours before a cleaning break of at least 20 minutes.

As for parks, Pongsakorn said they can be used for exercises that do not require social gathering such as running and cycling. Football, basketball, aerobic dance or tai chi practice will not be allowed due to potential risks of infection.

Yesterday, Thailand reported nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 2,947. So far, 2,665 patients have been discharged from hospitals and 54 have died. Thailand has been reporting single-digit increase in daily new cases since Monday.