BANGKOK — Starting next week, restaurants in the capital may serve diners until 11pm, though consumption of alcoholic beverages in the premises is still banned, the government’s pandemic response center announced Friday.
Nightlife venues such as bars and nightclubs will also remain closed in Bangkok and the neighboring provinces including Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, and Nonthaburi, spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said. The new measures will come into effect on Monday, Feb. 1.
Taweesin justified the booze ban as a necessary measure to prevent coronavirus infections from large gatherings.
“These venues will remain closed as we have seen a cluster of infections stemming from a party,” Taweesin said.
Dine-in hours are currently restricted to 6am to 9pm for restaurants in Bangkok metropolis – designated by health authorities as the “Red Zone” due to their high risk of infection. Serving alcohol in restaurants inside this zone remains prohibited, though drinks may be sold for takeaway, Taweesin said.
Restaurants in the provinces outside the “Red Zone” can open without any dine-in restrictions and alcohol can be served to diners under certain conditions.
Alcohol may be served until 11pm for establishments in 20 “Orange Zone” provinces such as Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, amd Kanchanaburi; and until 12am in 17 “Yellow Zone” provinces like Prachuap Khiri Khan, Surat Thani, Phang Nga, and Nakhon Ratchasima.
Education institutions may resume classes, with a mix of online and offline studying since the number of students is limited to 25 per physical classroom, Taweesin said.
Pattaya’s Shutdown Continues
Meanwhile, all hotels and tourist attractions in Chonburi, where the resort town of Pattaya is located, have been ordered closed until further notice – a blow to the local tourism and hospitality industry.
The order was issued by Gov. Pakarathorn Thianchai on Thursday, citing an unspecified “urgent need” despite seeing no new infection there for the past week. Hotels that are still occupied by guests may file an appeal to remain open within seven days, the order state.
There is a small silver lining. Phisut Sae-khu, president of the eastern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said the order was issued at the industry’s request so that employees could be eligible for compensation from the social security funds.
“We have been demanding the closure order for months already,” Phisut said. “It doesn’t mean that all hotels are now closed. Hotels can still open if they wish to do so.”
Insured workers affected by the pandemic are entitled to receive compensation at a rate of 50 percent of their daily wage during the closure period, but for no more than 90 days at a time.
Thailand continues to see a three-digit increase in the number of new patients on a daily basis with 802 new cases reported on Friday.
Taweesin said 89 were local transmissions, 692 from active case-finding operations among risk groups, and 21 were imported from abroad.
The country’s latest tally of cases now stands at 17,023. At least 76 deaths associated with the virus have been recorded.