As some provinces begin to loosen Covid-19 restrictions and other areas, like the Bangkok Metropolitan Area (BMA), consider doing the same, the Thai Prime Minister has stated today to the Thai Press that as the situation appears to improve overall in the country with Covid-19 an evaluation on the status of control zones will come at the end of the month.
Chonburi, along with Rayong, Trat, Chanthaburi, Samut Sakhon, and Samut Prakan are currently classified as highly controlled zones although based on recent numbers released by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) only Samut Sakhon appears to still have a significant issue, primarily in migrant camps, factories, and field hospitals.
Chiang Mai has ordered re-opening flea markets and walking street related areas and have also allowed alcohol sales at restaurants and related venues until 10:00 PM in a series of orders recently released.
The BMA, through Deputy Bangkok governor Sopon Pisuttiwong, stated to the Thai press today that the CCSA and BMA officials would hold a meeting on Thursday, January 21st, around some of the restriction and closure measures. He cautioned this was not a guarantee of the lifting of restrictions, however. The particular measures likely to be discussed are ones closing massage shops, gyms, arcades, spas, tattoo shops, and beauty clinics. The Pattaya News notes this is just a discussion, however, and not a promise that they will be allowed to open.
As for the highly controlled provinces, they are under a series of tighter restrictions set by both the governors and the CCSA. Although the governors have substantial leeway and could loosen items like the opening of massage shops or fitness venues if they wished, some measures, such as travel restrictions to the highly controlled zones and closure of entertainment venues/banning of alcohol in restaurants, come from the CCSA. The Eastern provinces in particular greatly depend on domestic tourism currently for a significant part of their income and are hoping measures restricting travel and popular tourist attractions can be lifted as cases in the “highly controlled provinces” have fallen to low single digits. (Or nothing, as with Trat, Chanthaburi, and Chonburi today.)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha stated that these measures would be reviewed near the end of the month with the CCSA. Again, it is important to note this is not a promise there would be any relief, but as the condition continues to improve in terms of cases it is a strong possibility. The Chonburi and Rayong governors have also deflected attempts by the media to give a firm answer on when restrictions would be lifted but also said evaluations were ongoing and would likely be reviewed at the end of the month.
Rayong and Chonburi, where the bulk of the recent infections took place in the Eastern provinces, are currently conducted targeted mass testing among high-risk groups over the next week to determine if there are any hidden asymptomatic carriers in the population. The original clusters in the area primarily came from illegal gambling establishments, according to health authorities although were originally linked to the epicenter of the current outbreak in Thailand, a Samut Sakhon shrimp market.