Thailand begins cautious four-phase reopening

Life began returning to something approaching normalcy last week, as businesses started reopening under a government-designed four-phase plan to restart the economy while containing the coronavirus as daily infections continued to fall.

New infections were mostly in the single digits every day last week, prompting the government to announce the four-phase plan. The phases will be staggered in two-week intervals with different types of businesses permitted to begin operating depending upon the risk level their activities may pose to the public.

Strict hygiene and social distancing rules will be enforced for some businesses and encouraged for others. The emergency decree Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued on March 26 will be extended until the end of May so the government can monitor the situation and act rapidly if necessary. A nighttime curfew also will remain in effect. The Prime Minister asked the public for patience.

“I realize that everyone, including low-income earners, farmers, and those with independent careers, is experiencing hard times. The government will take good care of you with existing budgets,” Prime Minister Prayut said.

“I would like business operators to be patient a little bit longer. I also share your pain,” he added. Public cooperation has been strong despite the economic cost.

In Bangkok, the governor said that restaurants could receive diners as long as they were seated five feet apart, but the establishments would not be allowed to sell alcohol. Parks, health clubs, and sports facilities would be reopened, but team sports and those that involve close contact would not be permitted for the time being.

As of April 30, Thailand had recorded 2,946 Covid-19 cases and 54 deaths, while 2,665 hospitalized patients 2,665 patients had recovered and were discharged.

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