The Public Health Ministry has stepped up discussion over the past weekend on potentially easing restrictions, regulations, and other closure measures on the Eastern provinces.
Currently, the Eastern provinces, especially Chonburi, Rayong, Trat, and Chanthaburi have been under a strict “highly-controlled” status which has led to many venues and businesses being closed. Additionally, travel to and from the provinces is restricted and requires written permission from government officials. As a result, even venues that are legally able to open are struggling with a lack of domestic tourism.
This status is due to a large number of cases of Covid-19 discovered in the provinces in late December of last year. However, the cases appear to have now fallen to or near zero, with most of the provinces reporting zero to one case of Covid-19 a day for over a week now.
Despite the severe lack of Covid-19 cases in the provinces, the restrictions and measures remain. This comes even as provinces and places with more cases (Like Bangkok) ease restrictions and rules due to the fact that they are not highly-controlled provinces under the arm of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. (CCSA). Besides the Eastern provinces, the other highly controlled provinces are Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan which are still seeing daily cases of Covid-19, especially Samut Sakhon, and unlikely to have their status lifted as highly controlled anytime soon.
The Deputy Minister of Public Health, Satit Pitutecha, held a meeting with officials from eight provinces this weekend and all agreed it was time to ease some restrictions and measures and let people get back to work. Those provinces were: Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, Sakaeo, Prachinburi, Nakhon Nayok, and Chachoengsao.
It is unclear, however, when any easing of the restrictions would begin. The CCSA has repeatedly said they do not plan to meet to discuss the overall loosening of restrictions until January 31st, despite continued pressure from officials, business owners, and residents of the Eastern provinces.
It is also important to note that easing of restrictions may not mean everything gets lifted or opened, according to the Public Health Ministry. Some of the Eastern provinces, notably Trat and Sa Kaeo, have gone two weeks without a single case of Covid-19 yet remain under strict restrictions and closures.