Bangkok imposes partial lockdown

BANGKOK (AFP) – Bangkok’s nightlife will go quiet as a ban entertainment venues went into effect yesterday, among a raft of restrictions aimed at curbing the kingdom’s rising coronavirus toll.

But an outbreak last month at a massive seafood market has spiralled into a resurgence, with infections now detected in 53 of the kingdom’s 77 provinces. The caseload had jumped to over 7,300 yesterday.

In Bangkok, where over 2,600 active cases have been detected, city authorities acted swiftly and announced a partial lockdown which began yesterday.

The capital also announced that public schools will be closed for two weeks, while more than a dozen virus checkpoints were set up yesterday across the city.

“We don’t want to use extreme measures like a lockdown and putting up a curfew, but we need a stronger medicine to prevent the new surge,” said Thailand’s COVID-19 taskforce spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin.

A nearly empty platform at a BTS commuter train station in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP

Nationwide restrictions and closures are expected to go into effect from January 4 to February 1, he added, allowing a two-day “grace period” for business owners to prepare.

Authorities worried about inciting alarm nationwide had been reluctant to classify the new emergence of the virus as a “second wave”.

But anger resounded across Thai social media yesterday on the renewed restrictions, with business owners expressing frustration with the partial lockdown.

“I comply with the measures strictly, yet I now need to close my business while there are many people scrambling on the skytrain everyday,” wrote spa owner Aksika Chantarawinji on the official Facebook page of Bangkok’s governor.

Thailand’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and is among the worst-affected in Southeast Asia due to its reliance on tourism and exports.